Camas Sew-Along: Sew the sleeves, side seams and hem

By the end of today’s sewing session your Camas will really look like a blouse – you will even be able to try it on!  Here is where we left off on Wednesday:  We had sewn the gathers, yokes and shoulder seams.  I forgot to mention that it is a good idea to stay stitch along the neckline and armholes to keep the two yoke layers in place.  Do this by stitching within the 5/8″ seam allowance using a normal stitch length.  Staystitching is a great way to keep fabric from stretching out when you are working on the rest of the garment.  Necklines and armholes are prone to stretching out because their curved edges include some fabric that is cut on the bias.  You can see the staystitching that I did here:Camas Blouse Sew Along (18 of 29)

Inserting Sleeves

Now it’s time to insert our sleeves!  Pin the a sleeve to each armhole with right sides together.  The double notch on the sleeve means that this should be aligned with the back of the garment.  Match the notch at the top of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.  Match the double notch on the sleeve with the double notch on the back of the blouse (right at the yoke seamline).  Match the single notch on the sleeve with the single notch on the front of the blouse – note that this notch is not the same as the yoke seamline, it is placed closer to the side seam.Camas Blouse Sew Along (19 of 29)

Sew the sleeve using a 5/8″ seam allowance.   Be careful to keep the raw edges of your fabric aligned.  Pivot the garment with your needle down and your presser foot up whenever you need to adjust to match the curve of this seam.  Sewing a steeply curved sleeve like this can sometimes feel like magic – while you are sewing it feels like there is no way that the two curves are going to fit together but, if you pin at the notches and take the sewing process slowly, they will fit absolutely perfectly. :)

Camas Blouse Sew Along (21 of 29)

Finish the seam allowance using a serger or a zig zag stitch.  Pardon my mis-matched forest green serger thread!  I have been sewing several Camas Blouses at once (including a forest green one) and was too lazy to change the serger thread…oh dear!Camas Blouse Sew Along (20 of 29)

Press the seam allowance towards the sleeve.  In the photo above, I am using a pressing ham.  You can press an armscye without one but a ham really makes it easier!

Side Seams

Now it is time to sew the side seams.  In the instruction booklet I mention two possibilities for sewing these – I have photographed the main option (simply sew and finish the seam allowance wtih a serger or zig zag stitch) but keep in mind that you can try out a french seam if you like!  A french seam would be particularly nice if you are creating an open front Camas cardigan.  That way the raw edges are nicely contained.  Another option that I don’t mention in the instruction booklet is to sew this seam using a flat fell finish.  I mention this option due to an error I just made on the Camas Blouse yesterday!  I had intended to sew a french seam on the Camas Cardigan I am making but accidentally sewed the sleeve and side seam with right sides together out of habit.  Rather than unpicking the stitches from the very delicate poly chiffon I am using I decided to create a flat fell seam instead.  It worked well!  This is what it looks like:

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-29

Anyways, if you would just like to sew a regular side seam as I am sure most of you would, let’s continue!  Pin the sleeve and sides seams with right sides together.  Make sure that the intersecting seams meet up nicely at the armhole by pinning carefully.Camas Blouse Sew Along (22 of 29)

Sew this seam using a 5/8″ seam allowance.  If you are sewing a woven Camas, now is a great time to play around with a smaller seam allowance to give you a looser fitting sleeve.  In the photo below you can see that I used a much smaller seam allowance on the sleeve than I did on the blouse side seam:Camas Blouse Sew Along (23 of 29)

Now finish the seam allowance using a serger or a zig zag stitch.  Press the seam allowance towards the back of the garment.

Camas Blouse Sew Along (29 of 29)

Sew the Hems

The blouse hems are sewn before adding the placket, so, although it might feel funny to sew a hem when you are only half way through the construction of the blouse, now is the time!  Let’s start with the sleeve hems.  You might like to try the garment on at this point to confirm that the sleeves are a flattering length for you.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-4

Press up the 5/8″ hem allowance.Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-5

Press 1/4″ under to hide the raw edge and stitch.  Repeat for the second sleeve.

Begin the blouse hem in the same manner.  Within the instruction booklet I include some tips to help you to create a nice curved hem.  I’ll show you the basic way to create this hem first and then, afterwards, I have photographed another hemming idea to help you out if you’ve exaggerated the curve of the hem as a pattern hack.  Here is the basic hem:Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-1

Press the 5/8″ hem allowance up.  Try to ensure that the hem allowance remains even at the side seams where it curves upwards.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-2

Press under 1/4″ to hide the raw edge.  Stitch the hem and press thoroughly to make it as smooth and flat as possible:Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-3

Alternative Hem for Exaggerated Curves

If you have changed the shape of the hem to make a more exaggerated curve (as we discussed in the sew-along post about pattern hacks) you will probably need to create a narrow rolled hem.  This is a nice finish if you are sewing the Camas in tissue weight knits or other floaty sorts of fabric (such as the poly chiffon that I am using below).  The rolled hem will not weigh down the fabric in the same way as a wider hem would.

Megan Nielsen has an excellent tutorial on her blog that contains three ways to sew a rolled hem.  My favorite option is #2 but I sometimes skip a step or two depending on how delicate or fiddly my fabric is.  I recommend following all of her steps though (despite my bad example) because your hem will be much more precise than the one that I have sewn!

For this rolled hem I sewed a scant 1/4″ away from the raw edge.  The stitching helps to keep the fabric a bit taught as you press under the raw edge to create a small roll.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-29

Here is the result!  What looks like a tuck in the center of the photo is actually just a trick of the camera and shadows.  I noticed it on the camera screen when I took the photo but examined the blouse and repressed to make sure there was no tuck…there isn’t, but it keeps showing up in the photos!  Just so you know. :PCamas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-30

Have a wonderful weekend!  On Monday we will continue full steam ahead – we will be sewing the blouse placket.  Many of you have found this to be the trickiest part of the blouse – I have all sorts of tricks and suggestions to give you so stay tuned!

February 11, 2016

Camas Sew-Along: Delay

This is just a quick note to let you know that I will be posting the next sew-along update tomorrow rather than today!  When I created the sew-along schedule I forgot that today (Monday, Feb. 8th) is Family Day in British Columbia, Canada!  It is a relatively new holiday so it catches me off guard every time.  My family invited me to go skiing for the day – an offer I could not refuse!  I decided to put work aside since family always comes first :).  Thanks for your patience!  The next sew along post will be launched on the blog by the end of the day tomorrow.
February 11, 2016

Camas Sew-Along: Sew the Blouse Placket

Thanks for waiting an extra day for this post!  I really had a great time skiing in the sunshine.

Today we’re sewing the Camas placket.  This is unquestionably the trickiest part of the Camas Blouse sewing process, but don’t worry, it isn’t that hard!  It is just a little bit finicky and it is a slow process in comparison to the very fast sewing steps that preceded it.

Preparing your Placket

The instruction booklet tells you to interface all placket pieces with interfacing suitable for knits (it usually stretches in one direction slightly and is quite light weight).  I have suggested you interface all pieces because this will make these narrow, fiddly pieces less likely to curl up or stretch out of shape.  Interfacing them will cause the knit fabric to behave more like woven fabric.

Depending on your fabric choice, you can listen to my instructions or you are welcome to disregard them!  Here are a few scenarios for you so that you can see what I mean:

  1. You are sewing with a thin jersey fabric whose raw edges roll up considerably.  You hope to sew functioning buttonholes on your placket.  In this case it would be best to interface all placket pieces if you are a tad uncomfortable working with knit fabrics.  If you are an old hand at working with knits you could interface one set of placket pieces and leave the other set free of interfacing.  This will reduce bulk and rigidity slightly so that your placket flows with the rest of the garment more readily.
  2. You are sewing with a thick interlock fabric whose edges stay nice and flat.  You would like to close your blouse front permanently by sewing decorative buttons on through all layers.  In this case you could easily sew the placket with only one set of interfaced pieces or you could even sew it with no interfacing.  At least one layer of interfacing will help to prevent the narrow placket pieces from stretching and rippling as you sew them to the blouse front.
  3. You are sewing a with a very stable woven fabric such as cotton (as I am for this sew along).  Go ahead and skip the interfacing if you don’t have any on hand!  Keep in mind though that your buttonholes might be a little bit misshapen or your machine might have troubles creating them – you know the button hole capabilities of your machine so use your judgement here.  If you machine often gives you troubles when sewing buttonholes, at least one layer of light interfacing will likely help you out!

I chose to skip interfacing altogether for this Camas Blouse just to test it out.  The Camas I am sewing has been lengthened to become a dress so I wanted to ensure my placket is not very rigid and bulky since it is so long and prominent at the front of the dress.

Assembling your Placket

I am going to show you two ways to assemble to placket – the first is how I illustrated in the instruction booklet.  The second approach requires fewer steps but results in a slightly less tidy garment (on the inside).  You can choose which method you prefer or even try out both!

 

Method 1:

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-6

Place the neckline placket on your work surface with right side facing you.  Lay out your placket pieces on top of it with wrong sides facing you.  Line up the shoulder seams and pin.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-7

Stitch the shoulder seams using a 5/8″ seam allowance and a straight stitch.  Press these seams open.  Once you have stitched both sets of plackets you can trim one of the seam allowances to 3/8″ if you like to reduce bulk (so that both seam allowance raw edges don’t end at the same point and create a ridge).

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-8

Now it is time to sew the placket to your blouse.  This can be a little counter intuitive due to the curved shaping of the neckline – pin carefully and even baste the entire seam if you are unsure you have the placket positioned correctly!  I’ve attempted to explain the process in a very different way than I did in the instruction booklet so that those who are confused by the instruction booklet can clarify things by reading this post and vice versa.

Place the placket on your work surface with right sides up so that the neckline placket looks like a frown (see the photo above).  You will be sewing the blouse neckline to the longest side of this curve (the top of the frown).

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-9

Drape the placket over the blouse and match the shoulder seams.  You can see in the bottom right of the photo above that the placket curves away from centre front (this is the part that some people find counter intuitive).  The blouse curves in a convex fashion and the placket curves in a concave fashion.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-12

Pin the placket to the blouse with right sides together.  Make sure to match the shoulder seams and center back.  The placket will extend 5/8″ beyond the blouse hem.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-13

Sew the placket to the blouse with a 5/8″ seam allowance.  It is a great idea to break the seam into two sections by starting at the centre back and sewing in either direction.  This way you are less likely to stretch the placket out of shape.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-14

Now that your placket is attached, here comes the most important step to create a smooth, professional looking placket without too much bulk!  Trim, trim, trim!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-15

Grade the seam allowances by trimming one to 1/4″ and the other to 3/8″.  Along the curved sections (the back of the neckline and the curve at center front), clip the seam allowances by making small triangles.  This will help the seam to curve smoothly.  If you are using a very delicate knit fabric or a loosely knit fabric, you might not want to trim or clip so thoroughly since this could cause runs in the fabric.  If you are using a dense knit or a woven fabric, trim and clip to your hearts content!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-18

Press the seam allowances towards the placket.

Now you can assemble the second set of placket pieces in the same manner as the first.  Finish the long outer edge (the same edge that you sewed to the blouse when you assembled the first placket) by using a serger, rayon seam tape or a zig zag stitch.  I’ve used a serger in the photo below and I’ve marvelled at a Camas Blouse the my mother in law created using rayon seam tape for this step.  She matched the seam tape with the floral print – it looked so pretty!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-19

Pin the inner placket to the outer placket.  Match shoulder seams and the center back.  This placket will also extend 5/8″ below the blouse hem.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-20

Starting at center back, stitch in either direction using a straight stitch and a 5/8″ seam allowance.  When you get to the hem, make a right angle turn and stitch across the entire width of the placket.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-21

For best results, trim and clip this set of seam allowances in the same way that you trimmed the first.  If you like, this is a great seam to understitch to ensure that the inner placket presses towards the inside of the blouse easily.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-22

Your placket is beginning to look very finished!  We just need to stitch it in place now.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-24

Pin the under placket in place to prevent any shifting before you sew your topstitching.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-25

From the right side of the blouse, topstitch along the placket edge 1/8″ from the seam.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-26

I like to topstitch with a slightly longer stitch than usual – I find it looks a bit more polished.  Doesn’t that look nice?

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-28

 

Now, if you prefer, you are welcome to use Method 2 to sew your placket:

Sew the shoulder seams of the neckline placket and placket pieces as instructed in Method 1.

Camas Sew Along Placket-1

Press the seam allowances open and trim one set of seam allowances to 3/8″ if desired to reduce bulk.

Camas Sew Along Placket-2

Rather than sewing one placket to the blouse as we did in Method 1, we will assemble the two placket sets before attaching them to the blouse.

Camas Sew Along Placket-6

Place one placket on top of the other with right sides together.  Pin the plackets together along the inner curve.  Make sure the shoulder seams are aligned.

Camas Sew Along Placket-10

Start at center back and stitch along the inner curve using a 5/8″ seam allowance.  Stitch from centre back towards the hem in both directions.  Breaking the seam into two sections like this will help to prevent things from becoming misshapen.  5/8″ from the raw edge of the hem, turn a right angle and stitch across the width of the placket.

Camas Sew Along Placket-15

Here is how your placket will appear once you have stitched this seam:

Camas Sew Along Placket-11

At this point, you can understitch if you like to ensure that the placket will fold and press crisply.

Camas Sew Along Placket-14

To understitch, press the seam allowances towards the inner placket (this could be either of the plackets, you choose!) with your hands.  Stitch through the inner placket and both seam allowances 1/8″ from the seam.  You can see the understitching in the photo above.

Camas Sew Along Placket-20

Press the placket so wrong sides are together and raw edges are aligned.  Turn out the placket corner at the hem.

Camas Sew Along Placket-22

Now it is time to attach the placket to the blouse.  Baste together the two raw placket edges if you like so they don’t shift around while you sew.  Pin the placket to the blouse carefully so that right sides are facing (the placket with visible understitching is the wrong side).

The rest of the process process will differ slightly depending on the machines you are using.

If you have a serger:

Camas Sew Along Placket-24

Beginning at one hem, carefully start serging so that the placket and blouse hem are even.  serge all the way around to the other hem.  Make sure that the shoulder seams are aligned.

If you are using a straight and zig zag stitch:

Using a straight stitch, start at center back and stitch towards either hem.  Finish the seam allowance using rayon seam tape or a zig zag stitch.

Finishing the placket

Camas Sew Along Placket-25

Press the finished seam allowance towards the blouse.  Topstitch the seam allowance in place 1/8″ from the placket seam.

Camas Sew Along Placket-29


 

I hope your plackets turn out well!  Take it slow and enjoy the process calmly :D.

Tomorrow we will sew our closures and I will show you my finished blouses!  On Friday I would love to showcase some of the blouses you have sewn – please email photos to me at info@threadtheory.ca if you would like to be featured.  Otherwise, blog and Instagram away and I will find your Camas projects on the web.  Exciting!

February 11, 2016

Camas Sew-Along: Closures and Styling

We’re on the home stretch!  Today we are sewing on our closures and I will show you my new Camas Dress and Cardigan in action!  On Friday I will show you a parade of Camas Blouses that have been popping up all over the internet.  I hope yours will be included in the parade – to be sure that it will, email me photos at info@threadtheory.ca.

Adding Closures

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-9

There are many ways to finish off the Camas Placket – some of which are detailed in the instruction book and some of which I will mention today.  Here are the ways I’ve come up with.  Maybe you have thought of others?

  1. Add buttonholes to the right placket (if you were wearing the blouse) and sew corresponding buttons to the left placket.
  2. Add snaps – I especially like pearl snaps!
  3. Sew the buttons through both plackets to create false buttons.  You could optionally topstitch the placket closed before doing this to avoid any chance of gaping or peek-a-boos.
  4. Topstitch the placket closed and avoid any closures.  This would be a very clean, minimalist look.
  5. Leave the placket open to create a cardigan.
  6. Add a tie belt made from self or contrast fabric to accompany buttons as a blouse or dress or use only the belt (no other closures) to create a robe style cardigan.

For the two garments that I sewed throughout the sew-along, I chose to leave one without closures and added false buttons and a tie belt to the other.  Here is how I added false buttons without stitching the placket closed:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-1

I topstitched the inner placket in place before addressing the issue of closures (as you can see in the last sew-along post).  This differs slightly from the instruction booklet where I instruct you to stitch the two plackets together while topstitching.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-2

Place the right placket (if you were wearing the blouse) over the left placket and pin together.  Make sure the hem is even.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-4

Mark your button placement on the right placket.  If you are sewing the pattern without lengthening it you can use the button placement markings from the pattern piece.  If you have lengthened the blouse as I have here, you will need to determine the button placement yourself.  You can follow the spacing provided on the pattern (6.35 cm/ 2.5″) or choose your own.  It might be a good idea to try on the blouse so you can see where the top button should be placed.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-10

Pierce your needle through both plackets when stitching each button in place.  Follow mytutorial on sewing on a button if you are often frustrated by hand sewn buttons popping off!

And you’re done! WOOT!!! Wear that gorgeous Camas for your Valentine’s festivities…or…you might find yourself grabbing it from your closet just about every day because it is so comfortable :).

Here are my finished Camas garments:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-17

Meet the Camas shirt dress!  I sewed this using a lovely dotted cotton chambray fromStylemaker Fabrics.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-1

I lengthened the Camas as I instructed in our post on Camas mods.  I kept the side seam very straight to get the slim silhouette I was imagining.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-19

I also lengthened the sleeves slightly so I could roll them up to create cuffs:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-32

The buttons I used are tiny little 3/8″ shirt buttons made from Tagua Nut.  You will be finding those in our shop when we launch an upcoming menswear pattern – the button up shirt!  I really like the creamy color for casual shirts like this one.  I find that these thin buttons with their subtle engraving look more subtle and professional than the thick shirt buttons that I often find in my local fabric shop.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-42

When I lengthened the blouse pattern I kept the original hem curve.  I really like how this shaping looks on a shirt dress!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-26

I created a belt out of two strips of self fabric.  I didn’t bother with belt loops – I had originally intended to add thread chain belt loops but when I tied the belt around my waist I felt those were really unnecessary.  The fabric does not shift or slip so there was no reason to require thread loops to keep the belt in place.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-31

Since this shirt dress is sewn using a woven fabric with pretty much no drape (I know, this is NOT what I recommended in the fabric selection post!) I find the neckline rides up and gapes a little.  I tried moving around by calling our pup, Luki, to test how the dress provided coverage despite the fact that it doesn’t want to sit flat against my neckline.  I think it provides tolerable coverage:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-37

It’s a bit annoying that I have to pull the dress back down over my chest after I move my arms up though.  I think this problem would not occur if the fabric had more drape and wanted to match the contours of my body.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-36

When planning to sew this version of the Camas in a woven, I raised the underarm seam and used a smaller seam allowance at the elbow to accomodate for the fabric having no stretch.  I detailed how to do this in our post on sewing with woven fabrics.  I didn’t make any other fit adjustments despite the fact that I have a very broad back and straight shoulders.  Looking at the photo below I can see I probably needed to add 1/2″ of width across the back.  This is a pretty standard adjustment for me.  I haven’t done this for past Camas Blouses that I have sewn using knits because I did not notice a problem with the fit across the back.  Even with this woven version, the problem is exceptionally minimal – I have full arm movement and only notice a small amount of tightness when I put my arms directly in front of me.  I don’t think it’s something I’m very worried about!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-24

Now I’ll show you the second blouse I made during the sew along!  This one was sewn as an open front cardigan.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-53

I used the super soft Canadian-made black interlock fabric that we carry in our shop for the front of the cardigan and the sleeves.  It makes a nice spring cardigan because it is quite light weight.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-55

For the yokes I used a sweater knit featuring a black and brown herringbone design that I had left over in my scrap bin from another project.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-2

For the back of the blouse I used a polyester chiffon with a romantic floral print.  I had made it into a simple kimono in the past but didn’t do a very nice job of sewing it so I recut it to use in this project instead.  I’m glad I can finally wear this fabric because I think the print is so pretty!
Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-5

As you can see, I changed the back hemline shape so that it makes a very dramatic swoop.  I showed you how to do this in the Camas modification post.  I also lengthened the sleeves as we discussed in that post.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-49

I think this cardigan will be very versatile in the spring and summer.  It can be worn over dresses or over jeans and a t-shirt.  The interlock makes it feel comfy and casual while the chiffon dresses it up without making the cardigan too delicate (since it is a tightly woven poly chiffon that doesn’t seem prone to snags and can be put through the wash and dryer).  Plus I can wear it with outfits that suit black OR brown – this makes any garment a win in my opinon!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-3


 

I look forward to seeing and hearing about your Camas successes and modifications!  I hope you enjoyed the sew-along.  Thanks for joining me :).

February 11, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Schedule & Supplies

Welcome to the first day of the Fairfield Sew-Along!  We will be sewing our Fairfield button-up shirts in time to give as Father’s Day gifts if you would like.  Here is how the sew-along will be spread out:

Monday, May 16th (today!): Gather your supplies.

Wednesday, May 18th: Choose your size.

Friday, May 20th: Create a custom fit: Part 1 & 2

Monday, May 23rd: Cut into your fabric, match plaids or prints.

Wednesday, May 25th: Apply interfacing, sew the button placket.

Friday, May 27th: Pocket and pleat or darts.

Monday, May 30th: The yoke – using the burrito method.

Wednesday, June 1st: The sleeve placket.

Friday, June 3rd: Optional sleeve tab and attaching the sleeve to the body.

Monday, June 6th: The cuffs.

Wednesday, June 8th: The collar.

Friday, June 10th: The Hem and Buttons – we’ll be done!

Friday, June 17th: A round up of finished Fairfield Button-ups in honor of Father’s Day.

 

Don’t worry if you fall behind – this is a pretty fast pace for those just learning to sew a shirt.  Take your time and enjoy the process!  These posts will remain available for your reference on our website and blog indefinitely.


 

Let’s begin by talking about the supplies you will need for your Fairfield Button-up:

Fabric

 

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, a gorgeous fabric shop both online and in Berkeley, California, have kindly provided us with two different shirtings to use during our sew-along.  (By the way, “shirting” is just fabric of any sort that you think will make a nice shirt…I remember when the word “shirting” really intimidated me!).  Let me introduce these two shirtings to you:

 

Meet: A gorgeous chambray with black and red slubs.  This fabric is called “Sailor’s Dobby Chambray.”  When this fabric arrived I was so excited to use it that I ended up making it into a sample for the website photos!  I’ll still be including some shots of this shirt throughout the sew-along (close ups of seams and darts) but there won’t be any process shots due to the fact that the fabric was barely out of the parcel before it became a shirt.

 

I love how crisp this fabric presses and how light weight the finished shirt is.  It is most definitely a dress shirt rather than a casual shirt.  One reason why it feels this way is due to the light weight of the fabric.  The fabric is 100% cotton and weighs 2.75 oz per square yard.  To give you an indication of how light this is, our buffalo check shirting is a beefy 5.25 oz per square yard!  Light weight fabrics are always a good choice for shirts suited to formal attire.

 

The second fabric is an Ikat from the section specifically devoted to Ikats in Stonemountain & Daughter’s online shop.  It is called “Dakota Arrows Ikat” and is a navy broadcloth featuring a white woven arrow design.  I was pleased to find that the navy did not run into the white arrows when I washed and dried this fabric.  An exact weight for this fabric is not given on the website but I would estimate that it sits squarely between the chambray and our buffalo check brushed cotton.

 

This large scale print will be a great example to use when showing you my pattern matching tricks.  I plan for this shirt to be quite casual – I can imagine it worn with a pair of brightly colored summery Jedediah Shorts or with some cream colored chinos.

 

Aside from the Stonemountain & Daughter fabrics, one other fabric will be joining us for the sew-along: I have photographed process shots of the flannel shirt that I made for Matt and blogged about recently – it is a pretty low quality fabric that I purchased locally.  It is probably better suited to pajama bottoms or rag quilts but I picked it specifically because it features a printed right side and a white wrong side – perfect for clearly showing you my stitching lines in photographs.


 

Now that I’ve shown you my fabric choices, let’s talk about how you can make your own fabric choices:

To make a dress shirt:

  • Look for lightweight pure cottons with a tight weave.
  • Cotton Pique is the best choice for a very formal dress shirt meant to be worn to black or white tie events.
  • The fabric should iron crisply (does it wrinkle crisply when you crush the fabric in your warm hand?  This is a good indication that it will iron nicely).
  • Check that the fabric is opaque.  It is possible to make dress shirts with slightly transparent fabric because men usually wear undershirts beneath dress shirts but you will want to check with the wearer to make sure the level of transparency is comfortable for them.
  • Check out this great post that explains the various weave styles of cotton dress shirt fabric.  You’ll learn the difference between Oxford, Twill and End-on-End.

To make a casual shirt:

  • You can choose from a huge selection of fabric options for casual shirts!  Look for everything from cotton chambray to fairly thin boiled wools.  I have even seen casual shirts sewn in thin french terry fabrics (thanks to a customer who contacted me wondering if this is possible!) – a knit button up is very cool and casual but it would be quite difficult to sew detailed areas with precision when working with a lofty, stretchy knit.
  • A shirt will likely appear more casual if it features a loose weave, a unique texture, or a bold print.
  • If you love raiding the quilting section of the fabric store when sewing dresses, you might like to try doing so for a button-up shirt (if your prospective wearer is inclined to wear unique and bold prints like my Grandpa!).

To make a mock up:

  • Choose a cheap woven fabric of similar weight to your final fabric choice.
  • There are many affordable fabric choices when it comes to thin woven cottons – my favorite are used bedsheets (ratty ones from your linen closet or the thrift store) and broadcloth.  My local fabric shop often sells cuts of broadcloth (around 2m) for as little as $3-$5 CAD.

 

Interfacing

 

We will be interfacing the collar, collar stand and cuffs.  We will also be interfacing the button placket (only the side where the buttonholes are sewn).

Interfacing is a very important element of a button-up shirt.  In the past it was common to starch shirt collars but, since this is no longer the case, interfacing is relied upon to create a smooth, crisp, stiff look.  It is acceptable to use light interfacings on casual shirts or to even skip interfacing altogether for a very modern, pleasantly rumpled look but, it is by far more common to employ a medium weight interfacing.

I prefer fusible interfacings for shirtmaking because I like a very crisp collar.  I find fusibles (especially the Shirt Collar and Cuff Interfacing that we carry in our shop) add maximum crispness while adding minimum weight.  Just because I prefer fusibles for this situation, doesn’t mean this is the best option!  Feel free to use a sewn in interfacing or, even better, experiment with both styles!  One of my favorite shirtmaking reference books is Shirtmaking by David Coffin.  Within this book you will find that the author recommends cotton muslin as a sewn in interfacing – he sometimes even uses two layers of the muslin to create a stiffer and heavier collar.

Notions

The only other notions you will need for your shirtmaking project are buttons!  I recommend using buttons between 3/8″ and 1/2″ in diameter for a professional look.  It is very rare that a store bought men’s shirt will have buttons that are wider than 1/2″.  Lately I’ve noticed (since I have been fixated on shirts for many months now) that more ‘youthful’ brands tend to use smaller buttons with lower profiles.  When I say “low profile” I mean that the buttons are not very thick.

 

With this in mind, I designed the Corozo Buttons that we carry in our shop to be low profile and on the small side.  While thin plastic buttons may have a tendency to crack, Corozo buttons can be carved thinly without this risk – Tagua Nuts are extremely dense and strong.  I never see sets of shirt buttons smaller than 1/2″ in my local fabric shop so I hope these Corozo buttons with their 3/8″ diameter fill a bit of a void!  They are the perfect color to use as an accent on a casual shirt.

If you are sewing a dress shirt I would recommend using either a button that matches your fabric exactly or a classic ivory color.  If you would like to create a super casual look, pearl snaps are a fun option!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Choose your size and make a mock-up

Welcome to Day 2 of the Fairfield Button-up Sew-along!  Today we are going to go into great detail about selecting a size based on our Body and Garment measurement charts.  I’ve photographed each measurement using Matt and his favorite shirt as models.

A note for newer sewists:

Within the instruction booklet I explain which measurements are the most important to take.  If you are fairly new to sewing and fitting garments, you might like to skim over the information in this post but don’t stress about it!  If you find that the information overwhelms you, don’t worry!  Just ignore all of this!

Just take the main measurements that I mention in the instructions (Chest, Shoulder Width, Waist Circumference and Neck Size).  If you pick the closest size and make no adjustments (or just some very basic adjustments, such as lengthening the sleeves), you will still end up with a shirt that fits just as nicely as a store bought shirt.  You only need to immerse yourself in the nitty gritty of measuring if you want to create a tailored fit.

A note for sewists planning to create a tailored fit:

 

During this sew-along I am going to create a tailored fit by making a mock-up of the pattern and then basing my pattern adjustments on the fit issues that I see when Matt wears the mock-up.  The sample that Matt is wearing in the photo above was sewn with no adjustments to the pattern so you can see it fits him fairly well straight out of the envelope.  I think there is room for a few small improvements (I may adjust the slope of the shoulders) but most of my discussion of fit will be about fit issues you might have instead.

 

Ok, let’s get measuring!

Measure the Wearer (and compare measurements to the Body Measurements chart:

 

Chest: Measure the circumference of the chest by circling the tape measure around the widest point.  Keep the tape measure horizontal (I was running back and forth between the camera on timer and Matt so I apologize if my tape measure isn’t nicely horizontal in any of these photos!).

 

It is usually suggested that you raise the tape measure slightly at the back so that it is sitting on top of the shoulder blades – this way you are accounting for the widest point at center front and widest point at center back.  In the photo above I am moving the tape measure up and down to find the point where the shoulder points protrude the most.

 

Waist:  It can be a bit difficult to find a man’s waist since there is usually little difference between the waist and hip measurements when compared to female proportions.  I like to measure at approximately navel level.  If the man you are measuring has a bit of a belly, measure at the widest point of the belly.

 

Hips: Don’t worry too much about this measurement – it is only for reference to make sure that the shirt will be able to button-up to the lowest button if it were to be worn un-tucked.  Circle the tape measure around the widest point of the hips/seat.

 

Shoulder Width: Measure across the back over the shoulder blades – place the tape measure where the shoulder blades protrude most.  If the man being measured is wearing a well fitting t-shirt I like to use the sleeve seams as an end point.  Make sure to ignore the seams if the shirt is too tight or too loose.  Measure from where you think the sleeve seams should sit.

Height:  This is a nice measurement to have for reference but isn’t especially necessary.  The length of the torso and arms are generally proportionate to height but are certainly not always so.  It is most accurate to sew a mock-up or measure a shirt (as explained below) to determine whether you will need to lengthen or shorten the arms and body of the shirt.

Measure their Shirt (and compare measurements to the Finished Garment chart):

 

Neck Size:  Keep the shirt buttoned up and circle your tape measure around the inside of the collar stand.  If the neck size does not match our measurement chart, don’t worry!  We will be discussing how to fix this in the next sew-along post.  Neck circumference can really vary from man to man.

For the rest of the measurements, lay the shirt flat on the ground with the back pleat spread gently open (if the shirt has a pleat).  Depending on the style of the shirt, the side seams may sit at the widest point or they may sit slightly towards the front.  If the side seams sit towards the front, measure from the natural fold at the widest point instead of the seam.

 

Chest Width: Measure from side seam to side seam (or from natural fold to natural fold) at the widest point of the shirt.

 

Waist Width: Measure from side seam to side seam (or from natural fold to natural fold) at the narrowest point of the shirt.  If the shirt is rectangular and does not have shaped side seams that curve at the waist, measure at approximately half way between the chest and hem.

 

Center Front Length: Measure from the neckline seam (where the collar stand is sewn to the shirt body) down the button placket to the hem.  This measurement will indicate if you need to adjust the length of the shirt body.

 

Shoulder Width: Flip the shirt over so the back is facing you.  Measure from shoulder point to shoulder point.  It is handy to examine how the sample shirt, our pattern, the wearer, and our body measurement chart correspond.  If our body measurement matches the wearer’s body measurement but the sample does not match our garment measurement chart, it is likely the wearer prefers less or more ease across the shoulders than our pattern includes.

 

Center Back Length: Measure from the neckline seam down the center back of the garment to the hem.  This measurement will indicate if you need to adjust the length of the shirt body.

 

Sleeve Seam: Measure from the armpit, along the seam to the end of the cuff.  This measurement will help you to determine whether you need to lengthen or shorten the sleeve.

Select a Size:

I always recommend that you sew a mock-up without any adjustments to the pattern.  Here are two examples to explain why:

  1. A body measurement does not take into account where mass is distributed.  For example, your chest circumference may be the exact same measurement as the size Medium in the Body Measurement chart but this does not necessarily mean that the shirt will fit perfectly at the chest.  If your wearer has a rounded back, shoulder blades that protrude considerably or perhaps a barrel chest, the shirt will fit him differently than it does our fit model.  You will likely want to make adjustments to the pattern.  As soon as you try the size Medium muslin on you will see exactly where you need to adjust the pattern.
  2. The wearer might have individual preferences about fit.  When you sew up the mock-up and try it on your wearer, ask for their feedback!  For example, my dad always prefers a relaxed fit across the shoulders both for comfort (loads of arm movement) and aesthetic (he prefers the shoulder seam to extend to where the shoulder curves towards the arm).  We draft our patterns and create our measurement charts assuming that the shoulder seam will extend to the end of the clavicle.  When you sew the mock up you will discover any areas that don’t fit the wearer as he prefers.  That way you are adjusting the pattern based on his fit preference rather than our fit preferences!

Sew a Mock-Up:

 

Fitting based on a mock-up is a very visual procedure that I find to be lots of fun – way more fun than adjusting based on math and drafting prior to making your mock-up!  I look forward to doing this with you on Friday.

I’ve used an old bed sheet from the thrift store for my mock-up.  It was the cheapest one available ($2) and it contained plenty enough fabric for this project.  I much prefer using bed sheets to buying muslin for shirt mock ups because I am giving something a second life rather than requiring fabric to be produced just for the purpose of creating a mock up.  After I’m done with the mock up I cut it up into rag-sized squares to give it a third life!

 

When sewing a mock-up, don’t spend lots of time on perfect topstitching or design details unless you want the practice before sewing your actual garment.  It is unnecessary to add interfacing unless you would like to test out the interfacing options on a few mock-up collars.

 

Since I am familiar with sewing the sleeve placket, I didn’t even bother to sew this!  I just left the slit raw.

If you would like to save time and fabric, only cut one yoke, collar and collar stand.  I used two of each item here as the pattern instructs but this isn’t necessary for a mock-up!

Once you finish your mock-up, join me on Friday to try them on the wearer and discuss fit!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Create a Custom Fit

Today we are discussing how to fit our mock-ups of the Fairfield Button-up Shirt.

Before we delve into this, I have a quick announcement about the agenda: This post ended up becoming very long so I am posting the some of the fit adjustments today and the rest will be posted after the long weekend (Tuesday, May 24th).  I will catch up with the rest of the sew-along by posting both on Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Now, let’s talk about fitting!

Many months ago when I asked for your input while I was designing the Fairfield pattern, many of you gave me some insight into fitting issues you struggle with.  The main ones that you mentioned were:

  • A slim build (most patterns include too much fabric around the waist and in the sleeves for your figure)
  • A long body (most shirts are too short to tuck in comfortably)
  • An unusual neck size (thinner or thicker than most shirt patterns)
  • A rounded belly
  • Uncommon shoulder dimensions or shape (narrow, wide or rounded)

We will be addressing all of these today.  If you have a particular fitting puzzle that I haven’t gone over in the post below, please comment and I will try to help you out!

 

Let’s get started:

 

Put the mock up on your wearer.  Pin the mock up closed at center front all the way up the the collar stand.  Make sure the pins are pointed away from the wearer’s chin…ouch!

Choose a shirt size-6

Stand back and carefully examine the wearer and mock-up while they stand in a relaxed but fairly upright posture.

Most fitting reference books suggest that you address fit issues in this order

  1. Length issues (from neck to hips and then sleeves)
  2. Width issues (from chest down to the hips) and lastly
  3. Specialized alterations (such as a rounded back or belly).

I have also been taught in various fitting classes to address fit issues from largest/most obvious to smallest (while very generally sticking to the top to bottom rule but bending it if necessary).

Both approaches have worked for me in the past.  I find I change tactics depending on the garment type and the specific fit issues involved.  For example, I will use the first approach if there are very few unusual fit issues involved.  As another example, if a rounded back fit problem is quite severe, I will use the second approach because often adjusting for the rounded back will allow the strained fabric to relax and solve any length issues.

In an attempt to make this post very visual, I’ve pretended that Matt has a few of the following fit issues by pinning the shirt to make it smaller, larger, shorter or longer than it actually is.  I hope these photos help!

First we will look at the fit issue as it appears on Matt.  I like to ‘solve’ the fit issue on the muslin by cutting or pinning to visually get a grasp on how the change will look on the paper pattern.  Then it is just a matter of making the same cuts and adjustments to the paper pattern pieces.

How to fit a button up shirt (20)

When I cut the mock up apart I like to use medical tape or masking tape to hold the various pieces together.  This allows me to measure the open areas once I take the mock up off of Matt so that I can use these exact measurements when changing the paper pattern.

After each fitting explanation I’ve included resources.  These resources are blog posts that focus on one fit issue exclusively.  They go into greater detail then I have here since I am covering many fit issues at once.  Aren’t we lucky to have the internet filled with such amazing, instantly accessible resources?!

Before working with your paper pattern, make sure to draw in all seam lines!  Changes will be made from the seamline and not from the edge of the paper.

Length:


Torso

How to fit a button up shirt (1)

The hem should not become untucked when the arms are raised.  The hem shouldn’t extend beyond the bottom of the pant fly.

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

Solution:  Add or remove length to the shirt fronts, back and the placket interfacing.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shorten Here” lines.  Overlap the pattern pieces to shorten and tape the pattern pieces to a new sheet of paper to lengthen.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

 

Shoulder

How to fit a button up shirt (3)

The shoulder seam should meet the armhole at the end of the shoulder bone (before the shoulder begins to curve towards the arm). It is too long if it extends onto the arm.  It is too short if it causes the sleeve to pull and sits before the end of the shoulder bone.  I’ve pinned the shoulder seam so that it appears too short for Matt in the photo below:

How to fit a button up shirt (4)

Solution: You will need to adjust the shirt front, yoke, and shirt back.

Adjust the Shirt Front:  On the shirt front, cut into the pattern from the middle of the shoulder seam to the armhole seamline (3/8″ from the edge of the paper).  Cut into your armhole seam allowance slightly and leave a “hinge” of paper between the two cuts.

Here is how it looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (5)

And here is how it looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---front

  • To create a longer shoulder seam, spread the large cut open and allow the small seam allowance cut to overlap.  Tape the pattern piece to a sheet of paper to fill in the empty wedge and trim.
  • To create a shorter shoulder seam, overlap the large cut and allow the small seam allowance cut to spread open.  Tape the overlapped cut closed, straighten out the shoulder seam by drawing a new line with a pencil and trimming along this line.  Fill in the empty wedge in the armhole seam allowance by taping the pattern to a piece of paper and trimming.

Adjust the Yoke/Shirt Back: You have two choices here.

Shoulder-length---yoke

  1. Cut through the yoke pattern piece and spread it wider or overlap it (just like lengthening or shortening a pattern…but this time the cut is vertical rather than horizontal).  This adjustment is easy but it means you will also need to add or remove width to the shirt back which will change how the shirt body fits.  If you notice the muslin is too baggy or too tight, slashing along the entire shirt back will solve two fit problems at once.
  2. If you are happy with the fit of the shirt body and only want to adjust the shoulder length slash towards the armhole in the same manner as we did for the Shirt Front.  Here is how this looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (7)

And here is how this looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---yoke-2

Resources:

Note that both these tutorials use a second cut and hinge to raise the shoulder seam upwards.  This cut may seam a little fancy or confusing (which is why I don’t use it in the method above) but it will make it easier to draw a new shoulder seam because both halves of the cut shoulder seam will still match up fairly well.

Colette Patterns Albion Sew-Along: Adjusting shoulder length with a yoke

Curvy Sewing Collective: Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

Sleeve

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

The bottom of the cuff should sit where the palm meets the wrist (about 1″ below the protruding wrist bone).  Keep in mind that adjusting the fit of the shoulder can change the sleeve length so it is a good idea to fix any shoulder fit problems before finalizing the sleeve length.

Solution: Add or remove length to the shirt sleeve.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shroten Here” line and adjust as mentioned for the torso.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

Width:


Back and Chest

As I mention in the instruction booklet, choose your pattern size primarily based on the Chest circumference.  If you try the mock-up on only to find there is not enough arm movement due to strain across the back or that the fabric is pulling across the chest, the simplest solution is to pick larger pattern size.  You can then adjust the more detailed areas of the pattern (the neck size, the shoulder length, the hip width, the sleeve length) to suit the wearer.

Sleeve

We have drafted the Fairfield Sleeve to be fairly slim.  If you notice that the sleeve is too restricting when rolled up to the elbow, you might like to add width to the sleeve.  In the photo below I’ve pinned the sleeve along the seam so that it is about 1.5″ narrower than the actual Fairfield sleeve to show you how a sleeve width fit issue would appear:

How to fit a button up shirt (8)

 

Solution: Add up to an inch of ease by cutting horizontally across your sleeve pattern at the underarm and cutting vertically the entire length of the sleeve.  Leave a “hinge” at all four seam lines.  Clip into your seam allowances to make it possible to spread the sleeve open.  Spread the vertical cut line open the amount necessary to create some room in the sleeve.  This will cause the horizontal cut line to overlap which will shorten the sleeve cap very slightly.  Add the height back to the sleeve cap by drawing a slightly taller cap.

Here is how the vertical cut appears on the actual mock up:

How to fit a button up shirt (10)

And here are the cutting lines you would need to make on the pattern to add this extra width:

Add-room-in-sleeve

Resources:

I haven’t photographed/illustrated this adjustment thoroughly because the Curvy Sewing Collective has done a bang up job of doing so!  Their tutorials are awesome:)

Waist and Hips

The Fairfield waist curves inwards slightly to suit an ‘athletic’ or slim figure.  I have pinned the mock-up at center back in the photo below so that the shirt appears tight at the hips for Matt – this way you can see what the mock-up would look like if you needed to add width:

How to fit a button up shirt (12)

If the wearer has a fuller figure you have three choices:

Side-seam-adjustment

  1. Adjust the side seam shape so that it is straight or less curved.  This small adjustment will give the wearer a little bit more room but won’t solve any serious fit problems.
  2. Grade up to the next size at the waist and hips.  This is a great choice for figures who do not have a rounded stomach but who are stocky instead of lanky.  Their mass is distributed fairly evenly around their torso.
  3. Use our “Larger Figures” pattern. It is tricky to adjust a pattern to suit men with larger figures because men tend to carry the extra weight distributed mostly towards centre front.  This means it is necessary to angle the centre front in addition to adjusting the side seam shaping.  A button up shirt includes lots of detail at centre front so we made this adjustment for you!

Resources:

Check out our tutorial on grading between sizes – it is very easy!


Now that we have some of the basics figured out, we will move on to special fit issues on Tuesday.  These include, adjusting the neck size, adjusting for sloped or square shoulders, and adjusting for a rounded upper back.

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Create a Custom Fit (Part 2)

Let’s continue our talk about fitting a button up shirt! Today’s post will cover adjusting the neck size, adjusting the shoulder slope, and addressing rounded shoulders.

Thanks for your patience while you waited for the second half of this post.  I really didn’t want to overwhelm you (and myself) by posting it as one immensely long and technical sew-along post.  I think it was better to address fit issues in chunks (must remember that for our next sew-along).

Fairfield sew-along

Today we’re talking about specialized fit issues.  Not everyone will come across these issues when fitting their mock-up, but if you happen to do so, you will likely find that it is difficult to find the solution by performing a quick Google search!  There are two problems when Googling these fit issues: 1. They can be labelled a variety of names and can often be solved using a variety of manners. 2. There simply isn’t much written on fitting men’s button-up shirts on sewing blogs (at least I can’t find much!).

This post will give you my preferred solutions and suggestions and will also refer you to other resources that may contain different solutions altogether; that way you can choose the approach that works best for you.


 

Adjusting the Neck Size

How to fit a button up shirt (13)

When choosing a size for the Fairfield Button-up, I recommend choosing based on the body measurement chart (specifically the chest circumference) and then adjusting the neck to fit the wearer.  We measured the neck size two sew-along posts ago and can now confirm how the neck fits by examining the mock-up.  As you can see in the photo above, Matt can fit two fingers between the collar stand and his neck comfortably.  I consider this to be the correct size – any tighter and the collar stand would become uncomfortable, any looser and it would gape.

Solution:

To change the fit of the neckline on the mock up (before transferring changes to the paper pattern), I find it best to work without the collar and collar stand.  Remove these if you sewed them on or sew a mock-up without attaching these pieces to the neckline.  Stay-stitch around the neckline seam line and then clip up to the neckline through the seam allowance so that the seam allowance does not interfere with the fit.

Before making any changes to the neckline, measure the exact circumference of the neckline along the stay-stitching – measure from one finished edge to the other.

Make the neckline tighter:

Cut a strip of your muslin fabric on the bias.  Wrap it around the neckline to fill in where the neckline gapes.  The raw bias edge will be your new seam line.

Make the neckline looser:

Draw a new seam line at the base of the neck.  Take off the mock-up and stay-stitch using your pencil marking as a guide.  Clip through the seam allowance up to this new seam line and try the mock-up back on your wearer.

Make changes to the paper pattern:

Measure the length of the new seam line on the mock-up with your measuring tape.  Compare this measurement to the original measurement.  Draw the new neckline on the paper pattern so that it measures the same as the mock-up.

Now that your neckline has a new measurement, you will need to choose the collar stand and collar size that suit it – the pieces intended for your size will now be too short or long. Here is a tricky little way of finding a new collar stand size without any pattern manipulation:  Find the difference between the old and new neckline measurements.  Select the collar stand size that is also that much smaller or larger than your original neckline.

Changing-neck-size

For instance, if I were sewing a size XS and I needed to enlarge the neckline 1″:  I would measure outwards from the tip of the size XS collar stand 1/2″ in each direction which would bring me to approximately size L.  I can adjust for any discrepancies of 1/8″ or so by making the neckline 1/8″ larger to fit the collar stand or by shaving 1/8″ off of the stand itself.  I would then select the collar size L to match the new collar stand.

Resources:

Tasia of Sewaholic does a great job explaining how to enlarge your collar pieces to match your new neckline (this is a good approach if you don’t have the option to choose the next size up or down from a graded pattern).

 

Adjusting the Shoulder Slope

How to fit a button up shirt (14)

A common fit problem for shirts and bodices is the slope of the shoulders – chances are the wearer’s shoulders do not perfectly match the way that the pattern slopes.

If you notice strain radiating from the center front in the upper chest and from the shoulder’s widest point (as you can see in the photo above), then the wearer’s shoulders are likely more square than the pattern.  The mock-up will likely feel too tight across the upper chest.  In the photo we had Matt put his hand behind his back and pull the shirt downwards to exaggerate this problem and make the radiating lines more obvious.

If you notice pooling loose fabric just below the shoulder across the front and possibly the back, this is likely because the wearer’s shoulders slope more than the pattern.  The mock-up will appear too loose across the upper chest.

Solution:

Change the slope of the shoulder seam to match the wearer.  In the photo below I’ve cut along the shoulder seam and part of the armhole to show you how the strain lines disappear when more room is given for the square corner of the shoulder bone.  I didn’t tape thoroughly enough to properly show you that the gap tapers towards the neckline – woops!  If the wearer’s shoulders were sloped more than the pattern you would need to overlap the muslin fabric rather than spreading it open.

How to fit a button up shirt (15)

To replicate this adjustment on the pattern, measure the amount that you have spread or overlapped the muslin.  Draw in your seam lines and then angle the shoulder seam higher or lower to match the muslin measurement.

Change-shoulder-slope.jpg

Now that you’ve changed your shoulder seam you will need to fix the armhole so that it remains the same size and shape as it was before your adjustment.  Raise or lower the armhole at the armpit the same measurement that you raised or lowered the shoulder.  Draw the armhole curve to match its original shape and length as closely as possible.

Addressing Rounded Shoulders

Also referred to as: Slumping Posture, Forward Shoulders, or, when referring to fit issues on women, the fairly offensive ‘Dowager’s Hump’.

How to fit a button up shirt (17)

How to fit a button up shirt (16)

This fit problem features many names, probably because poor posture is quite common.  Many of us tend to slump forward slightly.  If the problem is only slight, you probably don’t need to adjust your pattern.  If the problem is fairly pronounced (as it has always been for Matt), you might be pleasantly surprised to find that fitting the garment to the curve will make your posture look far less rounded!  I have heard stories about older women with very pronounced humps that are almost unnoticeable due to the careful way in which they fit their blouses.

Some people like to adjust for rounded shoulders by changing the shoulder seam position to angle forward to match the shoulders.  This removes fabric that pools in the upper chest and gives a little bit more room across the upper back.  This might be a good solution for you but the solution I have witnessed while taking a couple of fitting classes seems more suitable for Matt (though I haven’t actually tried this adjustment on him yet).  The location of the most curved or protruding area of the back can differ hugely from person to person.  The ‘hump’ can be located at the base of the neck, across the shoulder blades (as it is for Matt) or anywhere in between.

For Matt, the strain in the mock up is caused just as much by his spine curving towards the neck as it is by his shoulders curving forward.  In Matt’s case there are two curves to deal with: a horizontal curve (shoulders curving forward) and a vertical curve (neck sloping forward).

While the strain noticeable in the muslin may make you think that the back is wider than the garment and you just need to add width, you will find, when you cut across the strained area, that the strain does not disappear until you let the muslin gape open.  It is necessary to add extra length to accommodate for the vertical direction of the curve.

How to fit a button up shirt (18)

Luckily, a garment that already has a seam line across the back (a yoke), is quite easy to adjust!  You can add length to the shirt along the horizontal yoke seam. You can add width to accommodate the shoulders curving forward by adding a center back seam to the yoke only.  This vertical seam also gives you a fun chance to play with stripes or plaids (you can create a snazzy chevron effect by cutting each of the yoke halves on the bias). By the way, ignore the slash across the shoulder in the photo below – this was made for a fit adjustment in our last post and does not correspond to the rounded shoulder adjustment.

How to fit a button up shirt (21)

Here are the pattern adjustments that you will need to make to echo the slashes you made in your mock up if the wearer has a similar curve to Matt:

Dowager's-hump-adjustment

Resources:

Adjusting only the shoulder seam placement – tutorial by Maria Denmark

Adjusting for a dowager’s hump (various ways) – article by Sandra Kelly

The Dowager’s Hump adjustment in action by Mainely Dad (with a center back seam rather than a yoke – this allows you to see the finished shape we are attempting to create).

 


 

Whew!  I had been looking forward to fitting our shirts because slashing a mock-up to bits has a certain destructive appeal (at least for me lol) and I enjoy this tactile and visual approach to fitting after spending most of my time manipulating patterns on the computer…but I must admit, mulling over the fitting possibilities has a been a bit of a sewing mojo destroyer!  Don’t let fitting overwhelm you.  Just pick as many adjustments as you feel you can achieve and save the rest for future garments – your shirt will still fit better than most shirts off of the store rack!  It can be all too easy to get mired in the need to over fit but we won’t do that!  We’ll charge ahead and cut into our fabric tomorrow!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Cut into your fabric

Today is a great day for those eager to sew – we are cutting into our actual fabric at last!

To celebrate this progress we have an announcement to make before we start cutting:

We have another free pattern add-on download ready for you!  It contains a variety of cuff shapes to add to the Fairfield Button-up along with the necessary instructions.

Free-Pattern-Download---shirt-cuffs

Create a button-up shirt with snazzy angled cuffs (to match the shape of the chest pocket) or get really fancy and break out the cuff links to pair with the french cuff option.

If you download the free cuff add-on now your pattern pieces will be ready for you to cut out during our sew-along today!

And, in case you missed the earlier post, you can also find a free add-on for collar variations in our shop.  There will be more add-ons coming soon!


 

Okay, let’s get to the sew-along now:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-1

The first thing I suggest when cutting out a pattern is to wash and iron your fabric.  It is tempting to skip the ironing step (especially if you’ve just pulled the fabric warm out of the dryer and it is fairly wrinkle free) but it really makes all the difference when carefully matching prints such as stripes and plaids.  A wrinkled selvage can lead you astray when folding your fabric in half and may result in your pieces becoming off grain.  Long story short, take that extra step and iron your fabric before cutting into it!

The cutting layouts included within the Fairfield instruction booklet are intended to be used with fabrics that feature either one solid color or a print that you decide not to match.

If you are working with a fabric like this, go ahead and follow along with our suggested cutting layouts!

You will notice that part of the shirt is cut on folded fabric and part is cut on a single layer of fabric.  When working with a single layer of fabric you will need to work with the wrong side facing you (the right side is against the table or floor).  Working with the fabric placed in this direction will result in a center front button placket that faces the correct direction for menswear!  The Ikat I am using has no obvious right or wrong side:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-7

Keep in mind that you will be sewing quite a few flat fell seams on this shirt – I recommend clipping notches outwards rather than snipping into the seam allowance because an intact seam allowance is needed to create a tidy flat fell seam.  Some of the seam allowances are very narrow (1/4″) so it is also safest in these cases to clip outwards (even if they won’t be sewn into a flat fell seam).

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-11

If you are working with a printed fabric, lay out your pattern pieces to suit your print rather than to match our cutting layouts.  Chances are you will need to deal with one of these three challenges: Matching, design placement, or a one way layout.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-2

One Way Layout:

If your print has an obvious ‘up’ and ‘down’ you will need to place all of your pattern pieces facing in a single direction.  Our cutting layouts do not need any adjustments to work for one way prints!

Many shirt patterns suggest that you cut your cuffs and collars with the long edge of each piece aligned to the grain/selvage.  I placed the pattern pieces with the short edges aligned to the grain/selvage so that the flowers or birds (or whatever directional print you have) face the same direction as the sleeves.  The only piece that is not placed in this manner is the under collar – it is so thin that you will likely not be able to see the direction of the print and it is also mostly hidden by the collar.  If you prefer, though, you are welcome to rotate it on your fabric so it’s longest edge runs from selvage to selvage.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-3

Design Placement:

Large scale prints with motifs that are several inches wide often need a bit of special treatment and extra fabric.  If you are attempting to match the print (across center front, for example), keep in mind that the design repeats less often than a small scale print.  According to my favorite sewing reference book, Reader’s Digest, Complete Guide to Sewing, a general rule of thumb to figure out how much extra fabric you will need is: “The length of one print repeat should be added for each yard of fabric called for.”

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (11 of 16)

If you decide not to match the prints you can instead place your favorite elements of the print in highly visible areas.  For example, you might like to place the most interesting or most complimentary colored motif across the chest of the shirt so that it highlights the face and is very visible.  You might like to ensure that the left chest does not feature the same motif as the right chest as this can tend to look a bit strange.

Also keep in mind to avoid choosing the same motif to feature on the yoke as on the upper portion of the shirt back – this immediate repetition of the pattern always appears jarring.

When working with a large scale print I like to cut small design elements such as the sleeve placket and the collar out of the least busy areas of the fabric so that the print doesn’t overwhelm the design.  In the photo below, the main column of the sleeve placket is positioned so it avoids the main elements of the ikat print:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-6

My Nonnie did a great job of this here – she avoided any large black areas on her sleeve placket:

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (15 of 16)

Matching:

Common choices for men’s shirts include vertical stripes, horizontal stripes or plaids.  If you have chosen one of these you will need to do at least a small amount of pattern matching.  In my opinion, there are three levels of pattern matching:

Fairfield-Button-Up-10

  1. You can take a very careful approach to matching that creates the illusion of a seamless garment by continuing the print across two or more pattern pieces.  In the photo above you can see that I cut the yoke and shirt back to carefully make the distance between the dots continue evenly across the seam line.
  2. You can choose one element of the print to match and ignore the rest – This is what I normally do.  It creates just enough harmony to make the shirt look thought out while preventing you from loosing your mind due to the frustration of cutting out and sewing perfectly matched printed pieces!  I find, for example, that a plaid or other grid style print still looks nice if only the vertical pattern is matched, leaving the horizontal pattern to position itself more or less randomly (or vice versa).  Of course, this is a matter of taste- you might not feel the same way about plaids and grid type prints.
  3. You can choose one main area of the garment (across the center front of the shirt) to match and ignore all other areas of the garment.  As you can see in my quick plaid shirt below, the yoke, cuffs and sleeve placket are not matched but the center front is (or at least it did match until I placed the snaps in the wrong position lol).

Fairfield-Button-Up-63

Fairfield-Button-Up-79


Regardless of which ‘level’ of pattern matching you hope to achieve, here are some guidelines based on the style of print you are working with:

Stripes: Horizontal stripes usually require extra fabric while vertical stripes do not.  This is only a loose guideline – if you are working with very wide vertical stripes, you may need to get more fabric than the pattern calls for because you will need to spread pattern pieces farther apart.

 

Plaids: Even plaids generally take less fabric to match than uneven plaids.  When working with plaids you must pay attention to both lengthwise and crosswise matching.

Even plaid:

Shirt Sewing Tools-8

Uneven plaid:

Fairfield-Button-Up-78


Now let’s move on to the specifics of print placement.

The Procedure:

This is the order of events when you would like to create a perfectly pattern matched garment.  I’ve adapted these from my Reader’s Digest, Complete Guide to Sewing.

Stop at step 1 for vertical stripes, at step 2 if you aren’t a perfectionist (that’s where I’m stopping today!), and at step 3 if you enjoy a good puzzle and want to put your pattern matching skills to the test!

Working-with-plaids---centering

1. Centering: Decide which lengthwise stripe or bar of plaid will be at the center of the garment.  For a men’s button up shirt, this is along the button hole and button placement markings.  I find it looks nicest to choose one of the smaller bars of plaid when working with uneven plaids – it can look a bit strange to have the widest and brightest bar running down center front like a runway!  For my Ikat shirt I have made sure that the button and buttonhole markings fall on the same double pointed prong radiating from the center circle.  Note that I didn’t line up the center front with the prominent circles to avoid the runway look.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-9

Place all pattern pieces so that the center front or center back is lined up with this specific stripe or bar.  When cutting a piece on the fold (such as the back of the shirt, fold the fabric so that the centered stripe is folded exactly in half.

Working-with-plaids---dominant-crosswise-bars

2. Place the dominant crosswise bars:  This is only a concern when working with plaids or crosswise stripes.  Usually the most dominant (brightest and widest) stripe is placed at an area that flatters the body.  For example, if the wearer wanted to make his chest appear broader, you might like to place the dominant stripe across it.  If he wanted to avoid accentuating a wide waist, you would want to avoid placing the dominant stripe at waist level.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-8

Pick a notch or our “Lengthen and Shorten Here” lines as a point of reference to ensure that the dominant stripe is circling the body at the same level.

Working-with-plaids---crosswise-matching

3. Crosswise matching: This type of matching allows you to continue a plaid or horizontal stripe across two curved pattern pieces at areas you prefer – for example, you might like the plaid to continue across the chest and into the sleeve as much as possible.  This isn’t really necessary to do but it can look quite fancy if you achieve it!  In order to do this, you need to work with the seam lines rather than the seam allowances.  Draw these onto your pattern pieces.  Then place the notches along the armhole and along the sleeve cap so that they sit on the same section of plaid.  It won’t be possible to match the plaid all along the sleeve cap (near the shoulder seam for example) but it is generally most effective to match near the notches and ignore the rest of the seam.


 

If all of that has you a touch overwhelmed, approach your printed fabric in a different way – here is how I like to think about cutting it out if I don’t feel like messing around with much matching.

A couple tricks to reduce frustration (and as a bonus you might use less shirt fabric!):  Men’s shirts present some great opportunities for playing with prints so that you don’t have to perfectly match them and so that you don’t have to waste so much fabric between each pattern piece (arguably the worst part of matching prints).

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-5

  • Cut details on the bias – the pocket and sleeve placket can both be placed randomly on the fabric at a 45 degree angle so that you can utilize some fabric scraps rather than perfectly matching them to the chest and sleeve pieces.Fairfield-Button-Up-69
  • Add a center back seam to the yoke (don’t forget to add a seam allowance) – this way you can cut it on the bias to create a fancy chevron effect. You will only need to match the small vertical center back seam instead of needing to match the long horizontal seam between the yoke and the shirt back.
  • Only cut one yoke and collar stand and two cuffs from your main fabric.  Use a contrast fabric (possibly from your scrap bin) to cut the second yoke and collar stand as well as the remaining two cuffs.  This way you will have more yardage for pattern matching the exterior of the shirt and you will have a contrast fabric on the interior of the shirt (which can give a shirt great hanger appeal!).  Here is a very old shirt – my first button-up! – that I cut in this manner (but not because I was matching plaid obviously):

Contrast cuffs.jpg


To wrap things up, here are a couple of my favorite resources for matching plaids and stripes:

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on applying interfacing and sewing the button placket!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Apply interfacing, sew the placket

Today we are applying our interfacing and then we will do a bit of origami to create the button placket.

Apply Interfacing

Within the instruction booklet I mention that you can create a stiffly interfaced shirt or a softly interfaced shirt.  I’ve photographed either end of the spectrum here by using the plaid button-up as my stiff example and the Ikat button-up as my soft example

The plaid shirt features very stiff interfacing – I added one layer of our crisp Shirt Collar and Cuff interfacing (back in stock very soon!) to as many pieces as possible.  The Shirt Collar and Cuff interfacing adds a maximum level of stiffness without adding much weight.  Here is where I added it:

The Left Front button placket…

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (1 of 81)

Both collar stands…

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (2 of 81)

The upper collar…Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (4 of 81)

The under collar… I toyed around with the idea of using two layers of interfacing on this piece but found it to be too bulky so I later peeled off the top layer that you see pictured below – two layers of interfacing is worth experimenting with if you love the crisp collar look like I do!  Just avoid making your collar too thick since this will make it difficult to achieve crisp points.  Doubling up would work best with a less dense interfacing.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (7 of 81)

…and all four cuff pieces (two of which are pictured).

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (10 of 81)

To achieve a casual softly interfaced look for the light and floaty Ikat, I interfaced as little as possible.  I used our Cotton Fusible interfacing to add a medium level of stiffness while still encouraging the fabric to drape and naturally mold to the body.  I added one layer of interfacing to the following pieces:

The Left Front placket…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-4

One collar stand (the one without interfacing will sit against the neck) …

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-3

The upper collar (I left the under collar without any interfacing)…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing

Two of the cuff pieces (the two without interfacing will be the facings)…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-2

Button Placket

We elected to create a button up shirt with a ‘grown-on’ button placket – this means that the placket is part of each shirt front instead of a separate rectangle of fabric that is sewn to the shirt.  We decided to draft the shirt this way because it is easier to match stripes and plaids across the most important area (center front) with fewer pattern pieces.  Also, the placket will be less bulky because there are no seam allowances enclosed within it.

To create the right front band to which the buttons will be sewn, fold the fabric with wrong sides together at the first notch.  Press along the entire length of the fold.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (13 of 81)

Fold one more time at the second notch so that the raw edge of fabric is enclosed.  You’ll see that the neckline will no longer have any strange jagged shapes and will now be one smooth curve.  Press along this entire fold.Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (14 of 81)

Stitch 1/8″ from the folded edge to secure the placket in place.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (27 of 81)

Now we are going to sew the Left Front placket – this is the one that the button holes will be added to and it is the one that we have interfaced.  Begin by folding the fabric with wrong sides together along the first notch just as we did before.  Press along the entire length of the fold.

The pins in the photo below indicate notch 2 and notch 3.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (19 of 81)

Fold again at notch 2 and press along the entire length of the fold:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (20 of 81)

Stitch 1/4″ from the folded edge of the placket (the right edge in the photo above).  Think of this as a pin tuck (a small fold of fabric that is stitched closed).

Fold the placket outwards so that pin tuck faces towards the body of the shirt and press.  You can see in the photo below that this creates a smoothly curved neckline.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (24 of 81)

Now stitch down the other edge of the placket (the left side in the photo above) 1/4″ from the fold so that the placket appears symmetrical.


Not too difficult, right?  (Once you wrap your head around the origami folds!)  Tomorrow we will continue to sew by adding our pockets to the chest and sewing the back shaping.  I will be launching some free pocket downloads as well, so stay tuned!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Pockets, Pleats and Darts

Today we will be adding the chest pocket to the Fairfield shirt front and the darts or pleat to the shirt back.

Free-shirt-pocket-pattern

Before we sew the pockets though, I have another free download  to give you!  This download includes a variety of pocket shapes including:

  • A pointed pocket with top stitching and edge stitching
  • A rectangular pocket for a ‘workwear’ look
  • And a rounded pocket with a stylish shaped facing

If you would like to use these instead of the pocket that comes with the Fairfield Button-up pattern, you still have time!  Download the free file and cut out your new pocket from one of your fabric scraps.


 

Adding a Chest Pocket

The first step to adding a pocket to the left chest front is to determine it’s placement.  You can either follow our suggested placement markings or you can pick a position that suits the wearer’s proportions.

My favorite way to transfer pattern markings from the paper pattern to fabric is to use pins (you can also use a tracing wheel and transfer paper, tailors tacks or any other method that you prefer).

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (28 of 81)

To use pins, place your pattern on top of your fabric and stick a pin through each placement marking.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (29 of 81)

Flip the pattern/fabric bundle over and use the sharp points of your pins as a guide to place a second set of pins.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (31 of 81)

Peel the fabric off of the paper pattern piece.  This will leave you with one set of pins in the fabric and one set of pins in the paper.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (32 of 81)

At this point, you can mark the pocket placement with pencil or chalk (using the pins as a guide) or you can just leave the pins in the fabric until your pocket is ready to place on the shirt front.

To prepare the pocket, first fold the top of the pocket under (wrong sides together) 1/4″ and press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket

Now fold the top of the pocket with right sides together along the notched fold line.  Press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-2 Stitch on either side of the fold using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-3

Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-5

Flip the top of the pocket right sides out and carefully push out either corner until it is crisp.  Press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-6

Fold in the remaining seam allowances 3/8″.  Be careful to keep your seam allowances accurate because wavering allowances will cause the pocket to look noticeably misshapen.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-7

Edge stitch along the pocket top to keep the folded fabric in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-8

Place the pocket on to the shirt front using your pocket markings as a guide.  The top corners of the pocket should line up with the top two placement markings.  Position the pocket within the other two placement markings to make sure it sits straight.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-9

Edge stitch the pockets in place – you can use a variety of stitching styles.  The two that I suggest in the instruction booklet are:

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-10

A small triangle of stitching at either corner of the pocket and one line of edge stitching.  This results in a clean, minimalist pocket that suits dressier shirts (though ‘actual’ dress shirts generally have no pockets).

Here is a close up for the triangle in each pocket corner:

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-11

Or, two rows of stitching – one row of edge stitching and one row of top stitching.  This look is best suited to more casual shirts.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (37 of 81)

Here is a close up of how I join the edge stitching and top stitching:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (38 of 81)

Sewing the Pleat (Variation 1)

Now that the pocket is finished, let’s move on to shaping the shirt back.  The pattern includes two variations – a small box pleat or two shaped darts.

To sew the pleat, work with the four notches at center back.  Position the shirt back so the right side is facing you.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (39 of 81)

Fold the outer notches (indicated by the green pins) inward so that they meet with the inner notches.Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (40 of 81)

Here is what your pleat will look like from the wrong side of the shirt:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (41 of 81)

Press the pleat and stitch across the top of the pleat to hold it in place.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (43 of 81)

Sewing the Darts (Variation 2)

If you have chosen to sew the darts rather than the pleat, skip the above instructions.

Mark the darts in your preferred manner (I used my pin method) and chalk or pencil in the stitching lines using a ruler to connect the dots.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-13

Pinch the darts in half with right sides together.  The widest point of the diamond should meet and your chalk lines should be aligned.  Pin thoroughly.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-14

To avoid a pucker at either dart end, begin stitching at the center of the dart and work outwards.  Stitch off of the fabric and tie a not (rather than back stitching).  This will eliminate the risk of creating a bubbled dart tip due to bulky back stitching.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-18

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-19

Repeat this for the other half of the dart.

Press the darts towards center back.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-20

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-22


 

Are your shirts coming along well?  They will really begin to take shape on Monday when we sew the yoke!  Have a great weekend.:)

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: The Yoke

Today we are sewing the yoke on our Fairfield Shirts.  I like to use a method that many sewists lovingly refer to as “the burrito method.”  It results in a yoke seam and shoulder seams that have no exposed raw edges.  Let’s jump right in:

Begin by attaching your yoke pieces to the shirt back.  Lay one yoke piece on your work surface right side up.  Lay the shirt back on top of it with the wrong side up.  Baste the two layers together if you like (not necessary but it’s helpful if you are trying to maintain a perfectly matched print).  Lay the last yoke on top of this with the wrong side up.  This last yoke will be your yoke facing.  It is the visible yoke in the photo below:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (45 of 81)

Stitch all three layers together using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (44 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances so that one is 1/8″, one is 1/4″ and one is 3/8″.  This will help to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (46 of 81)

Press both yokes upwards.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (48 of 81)

Edgesitch 1/8″ from the bottom of the yoke.  If you would like, you can also topstitch along this seam 1/4″ from the bottom of the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-3

Now it is time to sew the shoulder seams.  To do this, let the yoke facing drop out of the way. You will only be working with two layers of fabric – the shirt front and the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-7

Pin the yoke and front shoulder seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-4

Stitch these seams using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-8

Now this is the point in to process when you will begin to understand why it is called the ‘burrito method’!  We will now proceed to wrap up our shirt so it becomes the filling and the yokes become the tortilla.  Let me explain:

Lay the shirt back onto your work surface so that the right side is up (you will be looking at the wrong side of your shirt front).  Make sure that the yoke facing is still drooping downwards.

Roll up the shirt back until you reach the yoke seam.  Roll up the shirt fronts until you are close the to shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-9

Rolling up the shirt back will have exposed the yoke facing.  Fold it upwards and over your rolled shirt.  With a little bit of tugging you will be able to join the yoke and yoke facing shoulder seams with right sides together (and no other shirt fabric in the way).

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-10

Pin the shoulder seams and stitch using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  You will be stitching over top of your previous stitching line.  You can grade these seam allowances to reduce bulk too.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-11

To dismantle your burrito wrap, pull all of the rolled fabric through the neckline.  You will be left with finished shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-12

And a gorgeous interior featuring absolutely no visible seam allowances!

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-13

At this point you can edge stitch along the yoke shoulder seam if you would like – this is purely optional.  I like to do this extra stitching if I have decided to top stitch and edge stitch the majority of the seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-14

And now you’ve completed a proper shirt yoke!

For this tutorial I used the same photographs that I traced to create the illustrations for our instruction booklet.  I thought it might be helpful to show you the photographed version of my instructions.  If you are stuck on any steps and want a different perspective than the photographs and illustrations provide, there are tons of excellent resources available!  Be sure to check these three out in particular:

Video Tutorial by The Sewing Arts Center (it’s very clear!)

Tutorial by Male Pattern Boldness (scroll down past the collar drafting part of the tutorial)

Tutorial by Grainline Studio for the Archer Shirt

I will be back on Wednesday to show you how to sew the sleeve plackets on to your Fairfield.  See you then!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: The Shirt Sleeve Placket

Today we learn how to sew a shirt sleeve placket.  There are many approaches to sleeve plackets such as a simple bound edge or a delicate slit with a facing, but the tower placket is the best choice for menswear.  It is very sturdy and produces a great structured appearance.  If you examine store-bought men’s shirts you will likely struggle to find anything other than the classic tower placket on each sleeve.

Fairfield-Button-Up-31

There are a few different ways to assemble a tower placket.  In the fashion industry it is common to use two pattern pieces: The main tower (which is the part of the placket you actually see) and a separate binding piece for the inner half of the slit/vent.

At first we drafted our shirt placket in this manner but, after examination of every shirt sewing pattern that I could find (as well as an extensive search of tutorials on sewing a tower placket) it became apparent that there are more resources available in the sewing community for a different sort of tower placket – the sort that uses only one pattern piece.  We decided to switch to this style of tower placket so that it is easier for you to find help within the sewing community if it is your first time sewing a sleeve placket!

After trying both methods, I have come to the conclusion that both the two piece and one piece tower placket are equal – neither is more difficult to sew and the finished plackets appear exactly the same.  I don’t really know why the industry and the sewing community have developed two different ways to sew a shirt placket but I am curious to find out.  The only reason I can think of is that we sewists prefer to cut out fewer pieces so that we can get sewing sooner!  Probably not much of a convincing reason!  Do you have a better explanation?


My musings aside, let’s start sewing:

The key to sewing a great placket is to mark thoroughly and sew precisely as a result of your markings.

I like to mark on the wrong side of the fabric with colored chalk and a ruler.  To make my markings I pin the pattern piece to the fabric and make tiny snips with my scissors at the top and bottom of each line – make these smaller than 1/4″ so that you are snipping within the seam allowances.

Use a ruler to line up each snip and chalk in your line.  Don’t forget to chalk in the placement line on the sleeve itself!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket

Place the placket on to the sleeve so that you are looking at the wrong side of both the sleeve and the placket.  Line up the placket’s “Y” shaped marking (between line 3 and 4) with the placket placement line on the sleeve.

Notice that the Main Column of the placket is closest to the center of the sleeve and the inner placket is closest to the back of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-2

Pin your placket in place by placing a couple of pins overtop of the “Y” shaped marking.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-3

Sew the placket to the sleeve by stitching along lines 3 and 4 to enclose the “Y” shaped marking in a rectangle of stitching.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-5

Now here’s the part that may make you a bit nervous if this is your first sleeve placket.  We are going to cut into the sleeve placket to create what is called the “vent”.  This is the slit that allows the sleeve to open up wide enough for the hand to travel through the narrow width of the cuff.

Cut up the “Y” shaped marking:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-6

And then follow both branches of the “Y” by snipping to each corner of your rectangle of stitching.  Be careful not to clip into your stitching:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-7

To reduce bulk and make folding your placket easier, you can trim the seam allowances that you have just created.  I like to trim to approximately 1/8″.  Leave the triangle of fabric created by the “Y” intact.  Only trim the long straight seam allowances:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-8

Okay, trimming is done!  Let’s start the fun part – folding everything until it magically begins to look like a placket!

 

Fold along lines 1 and 6 – these are the two outer edges of the placket.  Press thoroughly.

If your fabric doesn’t press very crisply or if it frays easily, you might like to keep all of your folds from shifting around by dabbing a little bit of glue on the underside of the fold.  Many people like to use regular white glue sticks and a Q-tip for precision gluing.  Other people like to use double sided hem tape (which can usually be found in the notions section of your fabric store).

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-9

Clip horizontally towards line 5 so that you can free up the other seam allowance on the main column in preparation to press it over.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-10

Now press it over and tack it in place with glue/tape if desired.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-11

It is now time to create the attractive triangular point that is often found atop shirt sleeve plackets.  I’ve photographed two ways to do this – the first is the way I have seen in several shirt making books and tutorials.  The second way is the one that my Nonnie (my grandma) developed when she tested out our Fairfield Button-up.  We ended up including it within the instruction booklet because it makes it easier to create an even point!  That being said, her method includes smaller bits of fabric to fold…if you have have troubles with dexterity, you might like to stick the the first method:

Method 1:

Fold on a 45 degree angle so that the top right corner of the column is folded to meet the bottom left corner.  Press thoroughly and secure in place with glue/tape if desired.Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-12

Fold again on a 45 degree angle so that the top left corner meets the bottom right corner.  Shift the fabric around until the point of the triangle appears centered.  Press and glue/tape in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-13

Method #2:

Fold along the horizontal fold line to divide the extended portion of the main column in half.  Press and glue/tape if you would like.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-2

Fold both the left and right corners inwards so that they meet in the middle.  This will create an even triangular point.  Press and glue or tape if you like.  If you are not using either of these tricks to secure your folds, try temporarily pinning your triangle in place so that it doesn’t become unfolded in the following steps.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-3

Now our point is formed, we are ready to flip the entire placket to the right side of the sleeve.  Prepare to do this by pressing the seams where the placket joins the sleeve:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-14

Push all of the placket fabric through the slit/vent.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-15

Flip the sleeve so that you can view the right side.  Carefully press along the three sides of the vent so that your sleeve placket is inclined to sit moderately flat:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-16

It’s time to finish the inner column now!  Shift the main column out of the way.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-17

Fold along line 2 to enclose the vent’s raw edge.  Your inner column will look like binding.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-18

Stitch 1/8″ from the edge to secure the column in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-21

We can now finish the main column.  Spread it out so you are looking at the wrong side of the column.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-22

And then fold it in half along 5 to enclose the final raw vent edge.  Press thoroughly so that the column looks even and the point looks symmetrical.

The main column is positioned directly on top of the inner column like so:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-24

Edge stitch along the main column from the bottom of the sleeve, around the triangular point, down the other side of the column for about 1″ and then across the main column.  Stitching across the main column encloses the raw edges at the top of both your main and inner column.

Fairfield-Sew-Along---sleeve-placket-23

Give your placket a final press and admire it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-25

Don’t worry, by the time you get to the second sleeve it will seem much less of a mystery and you will fly through it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-26


Resources:

An excellent Threads magazine article that teaches how to sew a precision placket.

This video demonstrates the placket as two pieces (the main tower and the inner binding).

This Sewaholic tutorial demonstrates how a differently shaped pattern piece can also lead to a classic tower placket.


 

Good luck with your plackets!  Take your time and use your iron lots.  We will continue with our shirts on Friday.  See you then!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Attach Sleeves and Main Seams

Today we are assembling the optional sleeve tabs and attaching the shirt sleeves to our Fairfield Button-up Shirts.  By the end of your sewing stint today you will be able to try on something that actually looks and fits like a shirt!

Let’s begin with the sleeve tabs.  They are very easy and are a great way to add a casual vibe to a button-up shirt.

Place two sleeve tab pieces with right sides together.  Stitch around all edges (except for the flat top) using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (28 of 99)

Trim and grade the seam allowances closely to reduce bulk as much as possible.  I like to trim off the excess fabric at each of the three points as well (this isn’t pictured in the photo below):

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (29 of 99)

Flip the sleeve tab right side out and press.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (30 of 99)

Lastly, top stitch around the sleeve tab 1/4″ from the pressed edge.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (31 of 99)

Repeat this process for the second sleeve tab.  Now that the tabs are assembled, it’s time to add them to both shirt sleeves!  The sleeve pattern piece includes a placement marking for the sleeve tab.  Transfer this marking to your fabric (I like to use my pin method – I place a pin through the paper pattern and both layers of fabric.  I flip the entire thing over and place a pin in the reverse direction.  I then peel off the paper pattern and make a chalk marking where the second pin has remained.)

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (32 of 99)

Place the sleeve tab on to the wrong side of the sleeve.  The point should face upwards and the raw flat edge should but up against the tab placement marking.  Pin to secure it in place.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (34 of 99)

Stitch across the raw edge of the sleeve tab using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (35 of 99)

Flip the sleeve tab down over the stitching line and press.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (36 of 99)

To enclose the raw seam allowance, we are going to sew a decorative box filled with an optional “x” of top stitching.  Stitch from wrong side of the sleeve using the edges of the tab as a guide.  The box can be as tall as you like – I’ve stitched it approximately 1/4″ tall here but you can make it 1/2″ or even taller if you like.  Stitch carefully because it will be visible on the right side of the sleeve.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (37 of 99)

And that’s it for the sleeve tab (until we add the button and buttonholes later)!  Let’s attach the sleeve to the shirt body now:


 

Prep the sleeve pieces by folding over 1/4″ of the seam allowance to the right side of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (3)

Next we will pin the sleeve to the body of the shirt with right sides together.  The folded edge of the sleeve lines up with the raw edge of the shirt body.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (4)

When you add your pins, keep the folded 1/4″ out of the way.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (6)

Sew the sleeve to the armhole using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Don’t stitch the folded fabric into your seam by accident!  I find it helps to gently and temporarily unfold it so that there is no chance of this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (9)

Trim the smaller seam allowance (the armhole on the shirt body) to 1/4″ if you like to make it easier to create the flat fell seam.  If your fabric frays a lot like mine does, don’t trim to closely to the stitched seam or else it will weaken it.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (11)

Finish the flat fell seam by pushing the seam allowances towards the body so that the folded sleeve head seam allowance encases the body seam allowance.  Iron carefully to make sure the flat fell seam is consistent in width.  Pin your folded seam allowances in place.  I find the more pins the better at this point!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (13)Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (14)

Now you can stitch your tidy package of seam allowances closed so that no raw edges can escape.  In the photo below I am stitching from the right side of the shirt using a very scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Stitching from the right side makes it simpler to stitch a consistent distance from the seam.  I have also tried stitching from the wrong side so that it is easier to see where the edge of the seam allowance package is.  You can try both ways to see which works for you!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (15)

From the wrong side of the shirt you will see a tidy package of seam allowances like this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (16)

From the right side of the shirt you will see one line of stitching and one seam.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (17)

Your first flat fell seams on the Fairfield shirt are finished!  Now we will dive right back in to sew the next set of flat fell seams – these ones feature the seam allowances on the right side of the garment and extend all the way from the sleeve seam to the side seams.

Begin by pinning the side and sleeve seams with wrong sides together.  The seam allowances are offset – the back of the shirt has a small 1/4″ seam allowance and the front of the shirt has a full 5/8″ seam allowance.  Offset them by lining up the notches at the hem.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (18)

Here you can see the seam allowances offset and the hem notches aligned:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (21)

Sew the entire seam from hem notch to the sleeve ends.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (22)

Make sure to line up the seams at the armpit:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (23)

Press both seam allowances towards the shirt front.  Press the 5/8″ seam allowance in half so that it’s raw edge meets the raw edge of the smaller seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (24)

Flip the entire package over towards the shirt back and pin it in place.  Stitch along the folded edge of the 5/8″ seam allowance.  Go slowly and tuck any fraying threads into the flat fell package as you go so that all you can see is the tidy fold.

I like to start at the hem and work my way towards the sleeve.  The sleeve feels a bit like stitching in a tunnel or, as my Nonnie described it, like looking down a well, but don’t worry, just sew slowly and shift your fabric often – you will get to the end of the sleeve soon!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (25)

Give your flat fell seams a final press and step back to admire how tidy and professional both the outside and inside of your shirt look!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (1)

Have a wonderful weekend!  I will be back on Monday with more of the sew-along.

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Sew the Cuffs

Welcome back from the weekend!  It has suddenly become scorching hot and sunny here so even looking at these photos of a cozy flannel shirt is a bit of a challenge right now.  All the same, the one sided print will make it really easy to show you the details on today’s sewing process: We are assembling and attaching our cuffs!

Let’s begin by basting the sleeve pleat.  The notches to form the pleat are labelled A and B on the sleeve pattern piece.  I’ve color coded these with large black pins in the photo below.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (59 of 99)

Place the sleeve with the placket spread open and the right side facing you.  Bring notch A to meet notch B.  I’ve marked the end of the pleat with a small green pin so that you can see how wide the finished pleat is:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (61 of 99)

Give the pleat a gentle press and baste across the bottom of the pleat.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (62 of 99)

Ok, now we can prepare the cuff!  Place the cuff facing on your work surface with the wrong side facing you.  If you have interfaced only two of the cuff facing pieces, use the un-interfaced pieces as your facings.

Press under the top of the cuff 1/2″.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (66 of 81)

If you like, you can baste this fold in place to keep it very crisp and even.  You’ll need to remove this basting later so if you hate stitch ripping you could also glue this in place!

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (67 of 81)

Place the cuff and cuff facings with right sides together.  Line up the curved bottom edges.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (68 of 81)

Stitch around the outside of the cuffs using a 1/4″ seam allowance – begin at the top (sew over the folded seam allowance), and stitch around the curved bottom of the cuff.  Leave the long, straight edge free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (69 of 81)

Trim and grade the seam allowances to reduce bulk.  Clip triangles of seam allowance off of the curved corners:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (71 of 81)

Don’t turn the cuffs right side out yet (I always feel like I should at this point!).  Pin the cuff to the sleeve with right sides together.  The cuff facing will be against the right side of the sleeve.  Keep the cuff facing out of the way of your pins.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (63 of 99)

Stitch the cuff to the sleeve using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Make sure to keep your pleat pressed correctly and your cuff facing out of the way!  Below is a photo of my cuff facing kept free of my pins:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (66 of 99)

And a photo of the stitched cuff/sleeve:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (65 of 99)

Grade the cuff seam allowance only.  Leave the sleeve seam allowance full length and press both seam allowances towards the cuff.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (67 of 99)How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (70 of 99)

Here is the tidy package that you will have created!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (69 of 99)

Pin the cuff facing in place over your seam.  If you like, you can baste it in place instead of pinning – this will ensure precision in the next step!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (71 of 99)

From the right side of the cuff, edge stitch across the top of the cuff (remove the basting afterwards if you basted!).How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (72 of 99)

Now finish your cuff by top stitching around the entire cuff (1/4″ from the cuff edge).

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (75 of 99)

And we are done for the day!  On Wednesday we will add our collar and on Friday we will finish our shirts.

How are your shirts looking?  Please comment if there are any unclear steps for you – I would be happy to elaborate:).

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: The Collar

Today’s post will cover the last big hurdle when sewing a button up shirt: the collar.  On Friday we will be left with the comparatively simple tasks of hemming and adding buttons.

Let’s begin:


 

First, let’s stay stitch along the shirt neckline using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  This stay stitching serves two purposes: 1) It prevents the neckline from stretching out as we work with it and 2) it allows us to clip into the seam allowances without the fear of fraying beyond the allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (72 of 81)

Clip every 1-2″ along the neckline up to your stay stitching.  This will allow you to lay the neckline out flat and fairly straight.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (73 of 81)

Now to assemble the collar:

Pin the upper collar and under collar with right sides together.  You will notice that the under collar is very slightly smaller than the upper collar – this is to provide enough room in the upper collar for the collar to curve gently over the collar stand.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (74 of 81)

Stitch around the two sides and the long top edge of the collar using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave the bottom of the collar (where the collar attaches to the collar stand) free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (76 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances and trim the corners to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (77 of 81)

Turn the collar right side out and press.  When I press collars I like to gently push out the corners with a point turner (or chopstick) and then ever so slightly roll the seam towards the under collar.  This will ensure that the seam doesn’t roll to the upper collar during later steps.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (78 of 81)

Pull the two remaining raw edges so that they are even and the upper collar is relaxed and slightly bubbled.  Baste the raw edge closed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (81 of 81)

Finish prepping your collar by top stitching 1/4″ from the collar edge around the two sides and the top of the collar.  Don’t forget to complete this step!  I have forgotten to do this a couple of times and forgot to take a photo of the stitching this time.  I don’t know why this step slips by me so frequently!  Here’s a photo of a finished collar so you can see the 1/4″ top stitching:

Fairfield-Button-Up-40

Now we can attach our collar stand and collar to the shirt!  Exciting!

Pin one collar stand (the interfaced stand if you only interfaced one of the two collar stands) to the shirt neckline, right sides together.  Align the notches with center back and the shoulder seams.  The collar stand should extend exactly 1/4″ beyond either end of the shirt neckline (this is the seam allowance).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar

Stitch across the neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-3

Grade the seam allowances (I trimmed the neckline seam allowance and left the collar stand allowance whole).  Press the allowances towards the collar stand.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-4

Pin the collar to the collar stand so that you can see the upper collar.  The under collar will be against the right side of the collar stand.  The collar will fit between the two notches.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-5

Baste the collar in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-6

Prepare the remaining collar stand by pressing under the 1/4″ seam allowance along the bottom of the stand (this is the part that attaches to the shirt).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-7

Pin the remaining collar stand atop the collar so that the right side of the collar stand faces the upper collar.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-8

Begin at one end of the collar stand exactly where the stand extends beyond the shirt placket.  Stitch around the collar stand using a 1/4″ seam allowance and end exactly at the other shirt placket.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-10

Here’s how it looks from more of a distance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-11

Complete the collar by carefully pinning the folded edge of the collar stand over your neckline seam.  I like to use quite a few pins for this job to make sure the collar stand won’t slip or stretch.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-12

You can choose at this point to baste the collar stand fold in place and then stitch from the right side of the garment or you can stitch from the wrong side of the garment.  I usually stitch from the wrong side of the garment because Matt wears his shirts open at the collar – this means the most visible stitching is either tip of the collar stand on the insiderather than the outside.

Either way, edge stitch 1/8″ from the collar stand edge around the entire stand.  If you like, you can tuck a garment tag into your collar stand bottom before you edgestitch:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (94 of 99)

Finish your collar by giving it a thorough press.  I like to encourage the collar to shape nicely by pressing on a tailor’s ham so that the collar rolls over gently and the collar stand takes the rounded shape of the wearer’s neck.  You can see the bend in my collar in the photo below:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-13

I encourage you to explore a different method of creating a shirt collar with each shirt you make.  There are many interesting methods, a few of which are well documented online.  They all use the same pattern pieces so you can work with all of them while sewing up a batch of Fairfield Shirts.  Pick the one that suits you best or meld together your favorite elements of each for your own unique method!

Here are some resources for different collar construction methods:


 

How did it go?  Does your collar look super professional?  I hope you are proud of yourself!  This is some pretty fiddly and precise sewing you have accomplished!

June 09, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: Hemming and Buttons

Father's Day Sale 2016

It’s the last day of our sew-along and Father’s Day is 9 days away!  Let’s finish up our shirts today so they are ready to give to your dad on his big day.

But first, you will probably want to know that we’re celebrating dad by putting all of our PDF patterns on a 50% off sale until 5pm (PST) on Father’s Day, June 19th!  You still have time to sew something nice for him.:)


 

To finish our shirts, let’s begin with the hem – a quick and easy task!  Press up the hem allowance 1/4″:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt

Press up the hem again 1/4″ to enclose the raw edge:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-3

I like that the curved hemline at the hip doesn’t interfere with pressing the hem.  It’s just the right amount of curve to provide shaping without bunching up at the peak.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-4

Stitch along the entire hem.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-6

And now, let’s move on to our buttons!  While many people dread sewing buttonholes (I can’t say I look forward to them myself), there is no need to get too uptight – just use a few tools and tricks and you will be surprised how professional they look when you are done!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-7

I like to use our expanding gauge to mark my buttonholes.  I generally ignore buttonhole markings on the pattern pieces and instead place my primary buttonholes at important points before spacing the rest evenly between them.  When sewing shirts for Matt I ensure that a button is placed at the widest point of his chest and also that the top button is placed nicely.  He likes to leave the collar stand button undone (as most men do when they are not wearing a tie) so it is important that the top button is not set too low so as to expose a bunch of chest hair or something!😛  If the person you are sewing for has a rounded belly, make sure to put a buttonhole at the area of greatest strain so that the shirt does not pull open.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-8

Even though the buttonholes are sewn vertically, I like to make a horizontal marking – this way I can use this marking as a placement for my presser foot and the top of the buttonhole.  I then use my placket top stitching as a guide to keep the buttonhole exactly in the center of the placket.  The top stitching is easier to see while sewing with a buttonhole attachment than a vertical chalk marking would be.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-9

Make sure to make a practice buttonhole before you begin on your shirt!  I tend to choose a buttonhole length that is slightly longer than my button.  For instance, I am using 3/8″ wide buttons (from our shop) for this shirt so I sewed a 1/2″ buttonhole.  This extra length allows the button to slip in and out easily.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-10

Apply your buttonholes to the collar stand, shirt front, and cuffs.  If you like, sew the bottom button hole on your shirt front horizontally.  You could even opt for a fun contrast thread for this bottom buttonhole.  This flashy little detail is quite common on store bought shirts and is a great way to add a bit of creative flair to such a traditional garment.

I find the trickiest part of sewing buttonholes actually occurs after the sewing is finished!  It is quite devastating to make a mistake when cutting open your buttonhole.

My favorite way to open buttonholes is with the extremely sharp chisel that we sell in our shop.  I didn’t even need to use a hammer to cut these buttonholes – I just pressed down with the chisel and they sliced open in the most satisfying manner.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-11

The chisel is 1/2″ wide so it was the perfect width for my buttonholes.  The inside of the hole looks so tidy when it is cut this way!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-12

Alternatively, you can use some sharp and precise scissors (such as the Merchant & Mills buttonhole scissors in our shop) or employ your seam ripper.

I highly recommend using a fresh and sharp seam ripper and a preventative pin at either end of the buttonhole to prevent cutting through your buttonhole and adding a gaping slice to your carefully sewn shirt!  You can see how this preventive pinning technique works near the bottom of this tutorial by Made Everyday.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-13

Lastly, it’s time to add our buttons!  If you are matching stripes across the shirt, be very careful with your button placement.  Position the button so that it will sit near the top of each buttonhole.  If you simply place the button at the center of each buttonhole you will find that the buttons slip up to the top of the holes during wear and your stripes will look like they are not properly matched!

If your buttons tend to work loose or fall off over time (mine used to constantly!), you might like to check out the button sewing technique that I learned in design school.  It was (almost) worth the cost of tuition to learn this technique alone!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-15

And, that’s it!!! We are done!!!  I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this sew-along.  I can’t wait to share some of your finished Fairfield Shirts next Friday.  Be sure to share your makes by email (info@threadtheory.ca) or by using #fairfieldbuttonup

Even if you can’t photograph your shirt on a model (don’t ruin the Father’s Day surprise for your dad by asking him to model before Sunday!), you can photograph your shirt hanging from a clothes line or pleasingly folded up beside your sewing machine.  Whatever sort of photo shoot you come up with will be perfect – it makes my day seeing your finished makes, your fabric choices and your design decisions.

Thanks for following along!  Happy sewing!

June 17, 2016

Fairfield Sew-Along: The Parade

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt

Father’s Day sewing plans aside, today I want to show you an inspiring selection of Fairfield Button-up Shirts sewn by you as well as the finished Ikat Fairfield that I sewed during our sew-along.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-3

Matt really loves this print (an Ikat from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric) and I think the indigo blue looks lovely with his brownish/blue eyes.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-6

I’m really happy with the casual look that the contrast Tagua Nut buttons gave to the shirt.  The amber color looks very summery against the blue – like the sun against a blue sky!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-13

I decided to sew the buttons on by forming a cross with my shirt to echo the print of the fabric (usually I sew two horizontal lines when working with four hole buttons…sort of like train tracks).  I’m not sure if this echoing of the motif is too subtle that it is virtually unnoticeable.  I notice it though!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-4

Matt really likes how the print placement worked out on the back yoke.  I’m glad I decided against placing the yoke on the bias.  I think the print was just a bit too large in scale for this cutting technique to have been effective.  I’m pretty pleased that the print matches along the collar and yoke at center back!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-7

With all the shirt sewing that I’ve been doing lately, Matt’s closet is beginning to look quite fresh and full!  I have been choosing his fabrics with a general theme of “blue and bright” since last winter his wardrobe had become almost exclusively dull brown and olive green.  The influx of a few bright colored items has made a huge difference!  I might do a photo shoot of his new shirt wardrobe soon – all of the prints and colors look really nice together.
Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-12

Now, the best part of this blog post – it’s time to show off your Fairfield Shirts!

Plaid Fairfield Shirt

_ym.sews_ achieved beautifully crisp cuffs and excellent print placement for her plaid Fairfield.  I love the careful use of contrast fabric for the cuff facing, collar stand and yoke facing!
Anniversary Fairfield Shirt

tiny_needles whipped up this Fairfield so quickly!  It was the first Fairfield Button-up that I saw in the wild after our pattern release.  Her boyfriend wore this very dapper shirt for their anniversary celebrations.

Fairfield Button up featuring sleeve tabs

One of our test sewers, Sarah, sewed this fresh and summery Fairfield for her husband.  I like how the sleeve tabs add such versatility to this shirt.  With the sleeves full length it looks very dressy but with the sleeves rolled up it takes on an airy and comfortable vibe that could easily work with brightly colored shorts!

Fairfield Button up with contrast yoke and pocketAfter completing her first Fairfield Button-up, Sarah immediately cut out another one – this time for her brother!  She had a lot of fun playing around with the stripes (she added a seam down center back) and she added some hidden froggy details.  Isn’t the frog peaking out of the front pocket such a great idea?!  She added a lining to the pocket to achieve this detail.

Fairfield Shirts by you

These three Fairfields have been sewn by bego_aguilera_caballero, Ana, and sewing_dutch.  The whimsical print on Begoña’s shirt is just lovely (especially with those dreamy houseplants as a backdrop). Ana sewed the band collar (available in our Alternate Collars free download) on her green linen shirt.  The band collar and linen are a match made in heaven!  Lastly, the subtle floral yoke adds such hanger appeal to Becca’s shirt.  She also sewed a striped grosgrain ribbon down the right front of her shirt which adds structure (for stronger buttons) and the perfect contrast if the top button is left undone.
Scared Stitchless Fairfield Shirt

And last, here is a great example by scaredstitchless of how much fun you can have when sewing a wearable mock-up!  Quilting cottons provide a limitless palette of bold colors and unique prints.  I’m impressed that she managed to find perfectly matched orange buttons!
Thank you, everyone, for joining me on the Fairfield Sew-along and for sharing your Fairfield photos by emailing me or by using #fairfieldbuttonup !  It’s been a thrill to see how smart your shirts look.  If anyone has wrapped up their shirt to give on Father’s Day, I look forward to hearing about the grand reveal!

June 17, 2016

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 1 - Supplies

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-10

It's time to begin our Belvedere Waistcoat sew-along!

During this sew-along I will be completing two waistcoats - one that requires an intermediate level of skill and one suited to beginner menswear sewists.  In addition to following along with the Belvedere instruction booklet we will be trying out a variety of fitting methods and adding some bespoke details to our waistcoats. Best of all, we will be finished on June 9th which means you will have lots of time to wrap up your waistcoat to give to your Dad on Father's Day (June 18th)!

Here is our schedule:

Day 1: Gathering your supplies (and Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit launch!)

Day 2: Choosing a size and thoughts on fitting

Day 3: Customizing Part 1 - Belt and Pockets

Day 4: Customizing Part 2 - Hem, Neckline, Collar

Day 5: Cut out your fabric

Day 6: Apply interfacing and sew darts (plus learn how to create a tailored front!)

Day 7: Assemble the lining

Day 8: Sew the welt pockets (or add patch pockets)

Day 9: Finish the waistcoat fronts

Day 10: Assemble the waistcoat back

Day 11: Add buttons

Day 12: The Belvedere Parade

Ready for all of this?!  Let's dive in:

Supplies

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-3

A waistcoat can consist of up to three different co-ordinating fashion fabrics: The front, the back and the lining.

 

quilted waistcoat

Quilted waistcoat front: Articles of Style: Not your Grandma's Quilt

Belvedere Waistcoat-4

1. The Front: There are very few rules to follow when choosing this fabric!  Depending on the style you are hoping to achieve you can select from a huge variety of fabric types.  Choose a wool suiting for a classic waistcoat to pair with trousers for formal events.  Use a wool tweed for a winter waistcoat that pairs nicely with trousers or jeans.  Or use a canvas fabric (such as the hemp and cotton canvas from our shop (this is what Matt is wearing in these photos!) for a summery waistcoat perfect for weddings.  Other great choices could include linen, silk, textured upholstery fabric, or even a thick and fairly stable knit!  Choose whatever fabric you would like to showcase.  If you are sewing welt pockets on your waistcoat, limit your choice to something that is not too bulky, does not fray exceptionally, and presses well.  If you are skipping pockets, don't worry about those limitations!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-12

2. The Back: There are several approaches to choosing a waistcoat back fabric - choose a statement fabric, a neutral fabric or the same fabric as your waistcoat front.  If you have opted for a neutral waistcoat front you could add a 'surprise' back as I have for Matt's waistcoat.  Choose a slippery acetate or Bemberg lining material so that it sits nicely under a suit jacket.  If you have used a statement tweed or silk for your waistcoat front, choose a neutral lining material for your vest back that will coordinate nicely with the wearer's trousers.  If the waistcoat will be worn casually, without a suit jacket, it is common to use the same material as the front instead of lining fabric or you can opt for a contrast fabric that is not slippery since it doesn't need to sit nicely under a jacket.  For instance, I sewed my Dad a waistcoat with a wool knit front and a cotton canvas back (which I waxed with Otter Wax!).  I didn't get any great photos of the back - I will do so at a later point and share them with you since I love how rugged the waxed back looks!

Tailoring materials

3. The Lining: Select a good quality slippery lining material that will not catch on the wearer's shirt.  My favorite is Bemberg (a type of rayon lining) but acetate or silk lining will do nicely as well!  While it is important to choose a strong lining fabric when sewing a suit jacket, there are very few pressure points for a waistcoat lining (because there are no sleeves) so delicate silk linings are an option.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-6

Okay, now that our fabric choices have been made, let's talk about structure and notions! The entire Belvedere Waistcoat front is interfaced to create a beautifully crisp garment.

The idea behind interfacing is to attach a crisp and stable fabric to your main fashion fabric to change the way that your fashion fabric behaves.  For example, wool suiting tends to sag and stretch out over time; when you attach a fabric that is not prone to stretching out you will prevent your wool from looking limp, worn and sad after years of wear!  Another example is silk - it is usually thin and without much body.  A waistcoat front made of one layer of thin silk dupioni would likely ripple and cave when the wearer moves.  It may also be quite weak and rip at the buttonholes.  Adding a stronger and stiffer interfacing to the back of the silk would add more body and strength to the silk.

Because you will be interfacing a large area of fabric, it is important to pick a good quality stabiliser that suits your fabric choice and also your skill level.  Here are some great pairings:

tailoring materials hair canvas

Wool fashion fabric: Use a wool canvas or hair canvas sew in stabiliser if you are proficient at padstitching.  No idea what padstitching is? I will be covering this later in the sew-along!  Choose a medium to heavy weight fusible such as cotton interfacing if you would prefer an easier solution.  Fusible interfacing has glue dots on one side that are melted to your fashion fabric with the heat from an iron.  Test the fusible on a scrap of wool to make sure that the glue adheres to your wool.

ivory-silk-organza

Silk fashion fabric: Sew in silk organza by basting it to the seam allowances.  Or, choose a light weight fusible but be sure to test the glue on a scrap of silk to make sure that the glue doesn't soak through or create the appearance of visible dots on the right side of the fine silk.

cotton interfacing

Canvas fashion fabric: Most medium weight fusible interfacing will pair nicely with canvas.  Make sure to pre-shrink both your canvas and your interfacing because cotton canvas, in particular, is prone to shrinking!  Even if you don't plan to machine wash your finished waistcoat, it is a good idea to pre-shrink fabrics because they could still shrink without washing.  For example, you will be doing LOTS of pressing while sewing your waistcoat with a hot and steamy iron.  This will shrink your canvas if it has not been pre-shrunk.  Pre-shrinking fabric could include washing and drying it (sometimes several times until it stops shrinking) or thoroughly steaming it with an iron.

bubbled interfacingImage from Tolemans 1hr Drycleaning.

Linen fashion fabric: Linen is notorious for refusing to remain fused to fusible interfacings.  The end result is the appearance of 'bubbles' where the interfacing and linen have detached.  I would recommend using a sew-in medium weight interfacing when working with linen.  Baste the interfacing in place within the seam allowances.  


 

Lastly, it's time to choose your buttons!  There are many styles you could select for your waistcoat buttons but generally I would suggest choosing ones that are between 1/2" to 5/8" in diameter.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-9

The ones pictured on Matt's waistcoat are 5/8" and are quite low profile making them a nice neutral choice.

leather buttons

I find that the more thick and textured your waistcoat fabric is, the more likely the waistcoat is to suit bulky or unusual buttons.  Harris Tweed waistcoats, for example, often feature quite large braided leather buttons.

Harris Tweed waistcoat


 

Now that I've overwhelmed you with all of my thoughts on material choices, let me simplify things by introducing the brand new Belvedere Waistcoat Sewing Supplies Kit!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit-1

I assembled all of my favourite materials to line, back and stabilise your waistcoat so that the only need to choose your waistcoat front fabric.  The linings in this kit would pair splendidly with wool suiting but also works nicely with canvas (as pictured on Matt), silk or linen.  The interfacing included is my favorite 100% cotton fusible interfacing which will work nicely for wool or canvas materials (as I mentioned above, I wouldn't recommend a medium weight fusible for silk or linen!).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-2

The main lining fabric featured in this kit is a delicious high end burgundy Bemberg.  I've included enough to line the inside and create the back of the waistcoat.  I've also included a paisley acetate lining that you can use to create a show-stopper waistcoat back or keep as a hidden special touch inside your pocket bags.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit-2

You can choose to buy the kit with or without the PDF pattern.  The PDF pattern is offered at a discounted price when purchased with the kit!


  In addition to the Belvedere kit, the shop includes a great selection of tailoring fabrics. The burgundy lining materials are both available by the 1/2 m (paisley and solid) and, of course, my favourite cotton fusible interfacing is also available.

There are three new tailoring materials just added yesterday: Two stabilisers (wool and horse hair) and one lining.

I will be testing out my bespoke menswear tailoring skills by padstitching wool canvas to one of the sew-along waistcoats.  I've added both wool canvas (left) and hair canvas (middle) to our shop so that you can join me!  I may even use the hair canvas to build up the chest area...we'll see how ambitious I am!

I've also added a second Bemberg lining to our shop!  If you prefer subtle pin stripes over bold burgundy, this is the Bemberg for you.  This striped Bemberg is traditionally used as a suit jacket or coat sleeve lining.  I purchased it from my favourite tailoring supplier (a lovely Italian gentlemen based in Ontario who sells predominantly to bespoke tailors) who proudly told me he is the only supplier of striped Bemberg sleeve lining in Canada.  I was surprised by this statement for several reasons: What is special about striped sleeves?  Why are Bemberg stripes desirable?  After a little bit of Googling I soon discovered that bespoke tailors are often frustrated by how difficult it is to source good quality traditional sleeve lining.  A striped sleeve lining used to be a sign that your suit jacket was traditionally tailored and not mass produced.  It is more cost effective for large scale manufacturers to use one lining material for the sleeves and body of a jacket so the use of contrasting sleeve linings set the bespoke tailor apart from their industrial competition.  In addition to this distinction, sleeve linings must be exceptionally smooth and strong to allow the wearer to slip their jacket on easily and to bend their arm fully without risk of tearing the material.  Using a contrast Bemberg sleeve lining frees the bespoke tailor to use a more delicate lining material (patterned silk, for instance) for the jacket body.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-7

I hope you learned something today and that you are looking forward to creating your Belvedere Waistcoat!  I'll leave you with a list of my favourite waistcoat construction resources.

  • A Youtube video by Professor Pincushion which is very approachable for beginners.  Learn everything about sewing a Simplicity vest pattern from reading the pattern envelope to adding easy faux welt pockets.
  • A video class by Gentleman Jim suitable for intermediates.  It costs $24.95 US which might seem pricey compared to free Youtube videos but I found it to be well worth the money!  The pace is easy to follow and Gentleman Jim is so lovely to listen to!  He is full of opinions and tricks for efficient sewing practices which are just as valuable as the waistcoat sewing instruction.  It felt nice to pay directly for all of the work he put in to making the video.
  • A large series of videos suitable for beginner or intermediate sewists detailing EVERY step to create a waistcoat.  This series by The Sewing Guru is lengthy and detail oriented.  I found the pace to be far too slow for my needs but this is a huge advantage if you are new to sewing!  You will have every question answered.
  • A blog post that gives a peek inside the process of fully tailoring a waistcoat.  This post created by Rory Duffy of Handcraft Tailor (who I featured on the blog two weeks ago) is an interesting glimpse into the process but doesn't fully instruct.  I would recommend avoiding this post if you are fairly new to sewing (it might be overwhelming!) but it is educational and interesting if you are looking to delving in to at least a few of the tailoring techniques that he uses.
May 19, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 2 - Fitting

Belvedere-Technical-Illustrations Today we will be examining the Belvedere size chart and then discussing a few fitting options that you can pursue to create a waistcoat that is beautifully tailored to the wearer's proportions.  If you have already looked through the instruction booklet you will notice that I go in to a fair amount of detail about measuring and a few fit adjustments.  I have elaborated further on these below and I've also attempted to phrase my instructions differently.  I always attempt different phrasing during sew-alongs in case you are finding a step within the pattern instructions difficult to understand...different phrasing may make things click for you! Pattern-info-Belvedere Waistcoat

Step 1: Take Body Measurements

To choose your pattern size, begin by taking accurate measurements of the wearer.  Have him put on the shirt and trousers he will most likely wear with his waistcoat.  Next, have him stand tall with good posture and a relaxed body (no sucking in the tummy artificially!).

 

Chest

Circle your tape measure under the arms so that it is around the widest part of the chest.  Make sure that it is sitting horizontally.  If you notice that the tape measure is sitting under the protruding shoulder blades, it is acceptable to raise the tape measure slightly on the back only so that it is across both the fullest part of the front chest and the fullest part of the shoulder blades.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

Examine the Body Measurement chart and circle the closest chest measurement.  Circle the larger measurement if you are between sizes.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-6

Waist

Now circle the waist with your tape measure in the same manner.  It can sometimes be difficult to determine the waist position as it is not always the narrowest point depending on the man's proportions.  Measure at approximately navel level.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

Circle the waist measurement in the Body Measurement chart.  If it falls under a different size than your chest measurement, don't worry, it is easy to use both sizes!  This is called "grading between sizes."  I have made a tutorial on how to do this (featuring our Jedediah Pants).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-7

If you are intimidated by grading between sizes and would prefer to stick to a single size, it is perfectly okay to do this (as long as your chest and waist measurements are no more than two sizes apart).  Just choose the larger size.  For example, if the wearer's chest measurement is 40 1/8" and his waist measurement is 33 1/2", cut out the size M pattern. You will be able to adjust your actual waistcoat near the end of the construction process by taking in the side seams if the chest or waist is a bit too roomy.  In our example the waist would be too roomy so you would need to take in the side seams.

Height

The Belvedere is drafted proportionately which means that the larger sizes don't only get wider, they also become slightly longer.  The heights selected for each size are based on a census of a large number of the German population (where our patternmaking software is developed).  How tall is your wearer?  Even if the wearer matches the height listed under his size, there is a good chance you will need to adjust the length of the pattern.  This is because a properly fitted waistcoat should extend to the bottom of the trouser waistband and the rise of the wearer's trousers might be different than the one we drafted for!  Which takes us to our next step...

 

Step 2: Analyse Garment Measurements

Centre Back Length

The Belvedere has been designed to cover the waistband of dress trousers which traditionally have a high (navel level) rise.  We have given the centre back length of the finished waistcoat in the garment measurement chart so that you can compare the pattern length to the length that you need to suit your wearer's trousers.  If the waistcoat will be worn with jeans or lower rise trousers, it will need to be lengthened so that it fully covers the waistband. Even if you make no other fit adjustments, I highly recommend performing this simple one so that the wearer can enjoy a waistcoat perfectly tailored to his outfit...this is hard to come by when shopping for ready-made waistcoats! Here is how to check the length of the pattern compared to the wearer's measurements: With the wearer dressed in the trousers he will most often wear with the waistcoat, place the measuring tape so that it extends from the top of the spine (where the base of the shirt collar stand sits) to the bottom of the waistband.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

Look at the Centre Back Length in the Garment Measurement Chart.  Does the measurement you took differ from the one in the chart?  If so, check out our tutorial on adjusting length later in this post!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

Neckline Drop

The Neckline Drop is an important measurement if the wearer plans to pair his waistcoat with a suit jacket or blazer.  He will likely want the waistcoat to peek out from under the suit jacket along the neckline.

Articles of Style waistcoat

(Image from Articles of Style)

The Belvedere has been drafted to include a moderately cut neckline which looks smart and modern worn without a suit jacket.  It would also be a great match for most 1 and 2 button suit jackets.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-5

If the wearer will usually be wearing suit jacket with a high neckline (a 3 button suit jacket for instance), have him put on his suit jacket with it completely buttoned up.  Measure from the base of the neck down the centre front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-4

Does the Belvedere neckline extend below the suit jacket?  You will need to raise it so it is at least 2" higher than the suit if you would like it to be visible!  We will discuss how to do this during the next post (during which we customise the style of our waistcoats).

Ease

The last two measurements to discuss are the Chest and Waist measurements listed in the Garment Measurement chart above.  I have just added these to the chart so that you can determine the amount of ease (room for things like breathing and movement) the wearer will have.  As I mentioned earlier, the order of construction I have used for the Belvedere will allow you to play around with ease when you are very close to being finished the waistcoat!  You will be able to try it on the wearer and take in the side seams or let them out slightly (using the large 5/8" seam allowance) to create a close fitting garment that hugs the wearer in a very flattering way.

 

Step 3: Fit to Unique Proportions

Now that we've determined base measurements, let's talk about fitting the pattern to unique proportions.  Male proportions can differ hugely.  Our size chart is suited to average to slim men with just a hint of an athletic figure (which means slightly broad shoulders, a narrow to average waist, and average to lanky proportions).  If your waistcoat wearer has a full tummy or stocky build you might need to make some adjustments. Here are a few common areas that may need adjustments before you begin to sew!  Please comment if I've missed an alteration that you would like me to help you with!

 

Tall (or average with plans to wear low rise pants)

You will need to lengthen the following pattern pieces: Front, Back, Front Lining, Back Lining, Front Facing. Untitled-1.jpg

Determine how much length you need to add with the following equation: Your Centre Back Length measurement - the Centre Back Length Measurement found within the Garment Measurement chart = Amount you need to add. Cut along each "Lengthen and Shorten Here" line and place the pattern piece over a new piece of paper.  Tape the cut pieces to the paper and extend the lines, smoothing a little if necessary.  Cut out your newly lengthened pattern piece.

lengthen-or-shorten

See a more detailed tutorial (using the Jedediah Pants) here!

Stocky/Broad Figure

The Belvedere features some nice details to fit to the body's curves.  Even though men generally feature straighter figures then women, most still do feature distinct curves.  Stocky body types will have far less pronounced curves than average or athletic bodies.  The curved areas include the small of the back and the waist.

Endomorph-Mesomorph-Eectomorph

If your wearer has a very rectangular or full figure you will probably notice that there is no curve along the small of the back and not much difference between the chest and the waist or hip measurements.  You might like to decrease the curves drafted in to the Belvedere so that there is more room for the fullness of your wearer's figure. It is quite easy to do this!  Just draw and sew straighter lines for the centre back seam and the darts.  Here is an example illustration.  You could keep more curve or remove more curve depending on the shape of the wearer's body.

adjust-for-stocky-figures

Full Stomach

Waistcoats are notoriously tricky to fit to rounded stomachs because they are already so closely fitted, there is no room for the fabric to blouse over the roundness of the belly. To combat this problem, rotund men (and now all fashion conscious men) have left their bottom button undone for over 100 years.  This tradition of leaving the bottom button open (on both suits and waistcoats) is said to have stemmed from the rotund Edward VII's practice.  There are several other theories but this is the story most commonly accepted by menswear enthusiasts.  The problem of fitting a waistcoat to a round belly is alleviated by adding more room at the waist, be it through leaving a button open or making adjustments to the pattern. Here are two approaches - an easy and a more difficult option:
  1. Sew 5 buttons and leave the 5th open.  Use the button layout for Variation 2 which features five functional buttons.  If the waistcoat is worn with the 5th button open the wearer is both very stylish and gives themselves more ease in the waist and hips.
  2. Angle the centre front: If the wearer's belly sits roundly at centre front the waistcoat would look baggy and ill fitted if you added more room at the side seams because you only really need more room at the front.  The Body measurements are likely 3 or more sizes apart (for example, the chest measurement is a size S and the waist is a size XL.  All other proportions suit size S).  Using the size S pattern, cut in to the pattern from the armhole to create a hinge at the dart point.  Pivot the centre front so that it angles outward causing the armhole cut to overlap.  Angle the centre front until you have added enough room for the size XL waist measurement.  Draw in a little bit of extra armhole length at the shoulder seam and side seam to accommodate for the overlap (since the armhole length needs to match the Back side seam).  You will notice that the angle of the shoulder seam and neckline also changes; you may need to make an adjustment to both of these so that they are closer to the original angle.  Adjust the size of the dart to also be the original size.  These adjustments cause all of the extra room to be added as close to the centre front as possible.  I would highly recommend sewing up at least one mock up to tweak the fit since this is a large change to the way this waistcoat is shaped.
Adjusted-for-full-belly

Very Thin or Very Thick Arms (or average with a style preference)

The shape and depth of a waistcoat armhole can vary greatly based on style preference and also to suit the wearer's proportions.  You can raise or lower the armhole if your wearer has thin or thick arms.  I drafted the Belvedere to have quite large and deeply curved armholes so that they fit like this:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-2

If you would like to alter this curve, you can do so by drawing a new curve along the Front, Back, Front Lining and Back Lining pattern pieces.  Make sure the waistcoat and corresponding lining curves match in length and shape so that they sew together easily. Adjusted-armhole

Square or Sloped Shoulders, Round or Straight Posture

The shoulder seam of a well fitted waistcoat should sit very flat against the body and should sit along the top of the wearers shoulder.  If your wearer has very sloped or square shoulders you may need to adjust the angle of the shoulder seam (on the waistcoat Front, Back, Front Lining, Back Lining, Front Facing and Back Facing). You can add or remove the extra to the underarm to keep the armhole the same size.  Here is a diagram to show you the change for square shoulders:
Adjusted-for-square-shoulders

Adjustment for square shoulders.

For sloped shoulders you do not need to make changes to the pattern pieces.  You can take in the seam while you are sewing the waistcoat (baste the seam and try it on the wearer). If your wearer has over erect or very rounded posture, you might need to angle the shoulder seam backwards or tilt it forwards.  Since the Belvedere includes large 5/8" seam allowances you likely don't need to make adjustments to the pattern and can instead work within the seam allowance by adjusting while you sew.  Sew your seam something like this for rounded posture (and the opposite for overly erect posture).

Adjustment-for-overly-erect-posture

Adjustment for overly erect posture (angle the seam towards the back).

 

The wearer is a woman!

waistcoat for women

I have already received quite a few requests to draft a Belvedere for women.  I don't have any plans to do so at this time but you should give it a try!  I'll be sewing one of the sew-along waistcoats for myself so we can see how the ideas I've listed below work out in reality.  I've created a Pinterest board featuring some great looks for inspiration too!   Here are a few thoughts on adjusting this menswear pattern to suit female curves. Your approach will likely be different depending on the size of the chest in proportion to the waist:

Small Chest:  For small chested women only small adjustments may be needed.  Choose the waistcoat size based on the woman's chest measurement and then adjust the shoulders, waist and hip by taking them in.  Increase the curve of the centre back seam, the size and curve of the darts, and the curve of the side seam to suit the wearer's figure.  Since many women have more sloped shoulders and thinner arms than men, it may be necessary to raise the underarms and increase the slope of the shoulders.  When sewing the darts it may be necessary to lower the point to make sure that it sits slightly below the bust point.

Adjusted-for-women---small-chest

 

Don't worry, this isn't as daunting as it looks in the diagram!  Just cut out the waistcoat pattern and baste or pin the seams together so you can try it on the woman's body.  You can then pinch and sew your changes in a very visual, step-by-step way!

waistcoat for women

Larger Chest:  This is quite a bit trickier and I must emphasise that I have only tried this as a thought experiment (not with a real fit model or mock up).  Choose the waistcoat size based on the wearer's chest measurement and grade between sizes to suit the waist measurement.  The curve of the bust will cause the armhole to gape so it is necessary to reduce the size of the armhole by adding a dart.  Since adding an armhole dart is not often an attractive design feature, it's time to bust out the princess seams! Pinch out the gaping armhole to create a dart.  You can cut out a quick mock up and use pins to pinch the dart to suit the wearer exactly. Now extend the darts to meet near (but not directly on) the bust point and curve to create a flattering princess seam.  Here is a rough approximation of the curve but you will want to adjust the shape to suit the wearer's figure:

Princess-seam
I've also seen some beautifully cut women's waistcoats that feature two sets of waist darts.  One is positioned as per the Belvedere pattern and a second one is added closer to the side seam.  This second dart, paired with a sloped shoulder seam could serve the same purpose as a princess seam by curving the fabric around the bust in a way that does not cause the armhole to gape.

 

On Wednesday I will have some fun tutorials and pattern downloads ready for you so that you can customise your Belvedere to your heart's content.  Stay tuned for patch pockets, a collar tutorial and belt options!

Oh, and if I've overwhelmed you with all of this talk about fitting, please take a deep breath ignore the bulk of this post.  Keep in mind that when you shop for clothing at a store you are buying something that has had no fit adjustments to suit the wearer.  If you sew up the Belvedere with just one of these fit adjustments (such as adding a bit of length) you will end up with a garment that is better tailored to the wearer than a store bought waistcoat!  That's what makes sewing awesome!

May 23, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 3 - Customising

They're here: Two of the Belvedere Waistcoat add-ons that you have been waiting for!

I have added two free downloads to our shop featuring adjustable belts and patch pocket styles. I had been planning to cut out our fabric today and to share several tutorials (as I mentioned in Monday's post) but I've bitten off considerably more than I can chew so I'm going to share these add ons in smaller segments.  The cinching belts and pockets are available today and I will continue with some photo tutorials tomorrow.  I hope that this slightly slower approach will work for you!  It will certainly work better for me (I'm a tad square eyed from staring at the computer for so long over the last three days).

 

Add a cinching belt

In our Belt Add-on download you will find a classic narrow belt that can be cinched using belt hardware and a rugged alternative featuring wide tabs that would look great on a casual canvas waistcoat.  Would you like to add one of these to your waistcoat?  I will be adding one of each to the two waistcoats I am making for this sew along!

We've also added gorgeous gun metal finish narrow waistcoat belt hardware to the shop that will suit a formal waistcoat with a silky Bemberg or acetate back beautifully.

This hardware is 3/4" wide which is narrower than the 1" cinching belt that I've included in the pattern.  This width has purposely been chosen so that your lining material will be gathered by the hardware when it is threaded through the slots.  The bulk added by the gathering helps the slippery fabric grip so that the cinched waistcoat will hold in place when tightened.  I also think the gathered lining material looks very elegant!

If you are sewing your cinching belt from a bulkier fabric such as wool or canvas I would recommend finding a different style of hardware that is 1" wide and features a locking mechanism (such as serrated teeth).  I have been on the lookout for this style of hardware to add to the shop and will let you know if I manage to find some!

Here is an excellent review of various store bought waistcoats and their corresponding cinching belts on the menswear fashion blog Well Dressed Dad.  Read this through before you choose your buckle style so that you can be sure to create a belt that not only looks attractive but also functions as it should!

Add patch pockets

Patch pockets are a great option for casual waistcoats.  You will commonly see these on waistcoats worn without a suit jacket; if you are sewing a formal waistcoat however, I would recommend using welt pockets or no pockets at all.  The pocket shapes included in our download give you two options to choose from that can greatly change your overall look!

Have a look at this inspiring selection of waistcoat photos to view similar pocket styles in action.

waistcoat with patch pockets

Photo from Articles of Style: A Guide to Men's Vests and Waistcoats

I'll be back tomorrow with more tutorials!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy playing around with design ideas now that you have these extra pattern pieces in your hands!
May 24, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 4 - Customising Part 2

Let's continue with our Belvedere Waistcoat customisation today!

I've printed and assembled my PDFs, if you haven't done this already, now is the time!  Check out our PDF assembly tutorial for help with this.

Okay, let's get our rulers out and dig in...

Change the shape of the hem

waistcoat with straight hem

While most waistcoats feature angle points at centre front, you are not limited to this conventional shape!  It is very easy to alter your Belvedere to feature a straight hem or to have round points.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

To adjust our hem we will be working with the Front, Front Facing and Front Lining pieces.  For small adjustments to the points you likely won't need to make changes to the lining piece but for larger adjustments, such as a removing the angle to create a straight hem, you will need to adjust this third piece. First I'll show you how to create rounded points:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

Always begin pattern adjustments by drawing in your seam lines. We will be making the changes to the seam lines and then will add seam allowances back on.  The seam allowances included in this pattern are 5/8".  I just measured in 5/8" from the paper edge at various points and then connected the dots.  Above you can see the Front and below you can see the Facing and Lining.  I only added the seam lines to the relevant area that we are going to be working on.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

Grab a French curve ruler or find a curved object (a cup, egg cup or small bowl for instance) and use it to draw the shape that you would like.  If you can't find something to trace along you can try drawing your curve freehand!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-4

Begin by marking the curve on the Front and then mark the same curve on the Facing so that they will match perfectly when you sew them together.

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Since our curve was small enough that it intersected with the original seamline before reaching the right hand edge of the facing we do not need to make changes to the lining.  If you draw a long gradual curve you would need to continue it on to the lining piece. Now let's add our seam allowances back on!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-6

Measure out 5/8" from your new seamline at various points and mark with dots.  Connect all of the dots.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-7

Now you can trim off the pointed tip along your seam allowance  and you're ready to use your customised pattern! To make a larger change to the hem such as removing the point entirely so that the hem extends in a straight line across the front begin by once again drawing in your seamlines...this time along the entire hem and up the side seam and centre front. You can see in the photo below that I did not extend my seamline up centre front very far...this ended up being a mistake as you will see very soon! I've included it in this post so you can see how easy it is to accidentally switch to using the edge of the pattern piece and not the seamline...its actually a lot more fool proof to just fully cut off your seam allowances entirely when working with a pattern.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

Use a ruler to draw your new hem angle.  Position the ruler so it begins at the bottom of the side seam (the seam line, not the edge of the paper).  You can still create a slight angle as I have done or you can make your line completely horizontal by making sure it is at a right angle to the grainline. You can shape the centre front corner so that it is pointed or rounded.  I'm showing you how to do a rounded corner here.  Begin by extending the centre front so that it no longer angles to the right.  You will need to glue or tape your pattern piece to another piece of paper for this extension. Now watch out, here is where I make my seam allowance mistake!  Can you see what I'm doing wrong in the photo below?

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-9

I've extended the straight line downwards using the pattern piece edge rather than the seamline!  Now, when I go to draw my curved corner with my french ruler I am drawing it from the seamline to the outside edge.  If I were to sew the hem like this the curve would be a different shape from the one I am drawing.  Don't worry, I will fix this in a moment!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-10

Now it is time to add in our seam allowances.  You can see my corrected seamline in the photo below (the yellow line) and my added seam allowance (the green line).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-13

We are ready to transfer these changes to the lining and facing!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-12

Place the lining on top of your altered waistcoat front and trace the alteration.  If you can't see your line through the paper you could cut off the extra paper and place the front on top of the lining so that the armholes and side seams match.  Then cut off the lining where it extends below the front pattern piece. Repeat this process for the facing:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-11

Now let's change up the shape of the neckline using the same techniques!

Change the height and shape of the neckline

seven button waistcoat

If you would like to raise the neckline and add another button to your waistcoat, here is how to go about doing this.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-14

We will be using the Front and Front Facing pieces.

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Draw in your seamlines along the entire neckline and shoulder seam.  Position a large sheet of paper underneath your pattern piece and tape or glue it in place.

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Use a ruler to extend the centre front (no need to measure right now, just draw a line 5 or so inches long so you have lots of room to work).

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Measure the distance between the existing button markings (2 1/4").

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Add a new button marking 2 1/4" above the top button.

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Use a french curve ruler (or freehand) to replicate the curves of the neckline.  You can choose to keep them the same as the existing neckline or you can alter them to suit the style you would like (more v-shaped or more scooped).

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Taper your new neckline so that it meets the original one before the shoulder seamline.

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Add your seam allowance back on:

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And now transfer your changes to the Facing so that it matches the shape of your new neckline.

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And voila, you are ready to sew a seven button waistcoat!  

Add a collar

Shawl collar waistcoat 2

Last, but certainly not least, I'll show you just how easy it is to add a shawl collar to the Belvedere - I've done this change to the pattern free hand (using only my measuring tape and a pen) to show you that you don't even need to have fancy rulers to do this. The shawl collar we are drafting will look like this: shawl collar waistcoat 3

Notice that it does not extend around the back of the neck making it easy to draft, super easy to sew, and comfortable to wear under a suit jacket.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-25

We will be working with the Front and Facing pieces.

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Begin by drawing in the neckline seamline.  You might like to draw the shoulder seamline as well.

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Now sketch in your finished collar shape beginning just above the top button and curving up the the shoulder seam.  This sketch is not actually part of your revised pattern piece, it is just a way to help you visualise the finished collar shape.

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When you are happy with the shape of your collar, you can use this handy technique to mirror it so that it is positioned correctly on your pattern piece.  Measure from the seamline to the edge of your collar sketch.

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Next, measure the same distance out from your seamline to find the position of the actual collar edge.  Do this at various points the entire length of the collar and then connect the dots.

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The top edge of the collar will be sewn in to the shoulder seam so it needs to match the angle of the shoulder seam when the collar is folded as it will be when the waistcoat is finished.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-31

Sorry for my messy sketching lines!  Without the aid of a ruler they don't look very smooth...if yours are a bit wobbly too just keep smoothing them out until you are happy with how they look.  And remember we have nice large 5/8" seam allowances to work with so if you can cut and sew straighter than you can draw you will be able to hide any wobbles within your allowances! Let's add those allowances back on:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-32

And finally, we must add what will actually be the visible side of the collar to the Facing pattern piece:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-33

I can't wait to sew one of my waistcoats using this shawl collar design! If you would like to try a different collar style, here is a couple of tutorials for you to check out:

May 25, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 5 - Cut out your fabric

It's time to cut out our fabric!  Here are my materials for the two Belvedere Waistcoats that I will be making.  I'm creating Variation 1 without any alterations for my Granddad to wear on a cruise next Fall.  It will look so nice with his navy blue suit!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

I'll be using this 100% wool suiting remnant that I bought from my favorite sewing store in Victoria, B.C. - The Makehouse.  I think the soft grey with white pinstripes will pair perfectly with the materials from our Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit. The second waistcoat (that I will be sewing is for myself) will be Variation 2 paired with many of the the customisation that we discussed this week!  This remnant is a very thick wool which I also purchased from The Makehouse.  I will be trying out a few tailoring techniques using the new tailoring supplies that we have in our shop: striped Bemberg lining, wool canvas stabilizer and hair canvas.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

I've photographed a number of tips as I cut out Variation 1:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-11

Tip #1: Make sure that your pattern grainline is perfectly aligned to the grainline of your fabric.  Don't just eyeball it!  Measure from one end of the grainline to the selvedge of your fabric.

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Now move your measuring tape to the other end of the grainline to check to see if you have the same measurement.  Adjust your pattern piece until you do!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-13

Tip #2: If you are adding welt pockets to your waistcoat and are working with a striped or patterned material you will need to pattern match your welt pieces.  To do so, I like to cut out the edge of the welt placement markings on the waistcoat Front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-14

I can see that a white stripe is lined up with the left edge of the window.

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Now cut out the corresponding window in the welt pattern piece (this is the side marked "This side closest to centre front."  I ensured that the right edge of the welt was aligned with a white pin stripe.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-17

After you cut out your welt pieces keep them pinned to the paper pattern piece.  Since most wools do not have an obvious wrong side it can be very easy to lose which direction the welt should go!  I keep my pieces pinned until the moment that I sew them to the waistcoat front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-4

Tip #3: When working with moderately slippery fabrics such as the paisley acetate lining that I am using for my waistcoat back I like to fold the lining in half with selvedges together (as per usual) and then press the fold VERY crisply.  This makes the two layers of lining far less likely to become misaligned.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-5

Above you can see the layout that I used when cutting a contrast waistcoat back (instead of using the same material that I used for the lining.  I managed to slip the pocket linings on to this piece too and had loads of material to spare.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-7

Tip #4: When working with VERY slippery fabrics like Bemberg lining I find pins to be my best friend.  I pin the pattern piece to the lining material thoroughly and I also pin around the pattern piece.  This second set of pins really helps to prevent the fabric from twisting as you cut.  Many people use rotary cutters to cut slippery fabrics like this but, despite the fact that I bought a huge mat and good blade as part of my required materials at fashion school I have never really got the hang of using them.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-9

When cutting with scissors you may notice that, despite your best efforts, the fabric just refuses to take the shape of the pattern piece!  When cutting a lining it is important to be very accurate.  You can see that I have cut approximately 2 mm too wide on my neckline in the photo above.  Make sure to re-trim any accesses like this or you will likely notice that your lining seems baggy and prone to peeking out at the neckline and armholes.  If anything it is better to cut your lining slightly too small.  Here I have re-trimmed this problem area:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-10

Tip #6:  There is a good chance you will need far less interfacing than our instruction booklet recommends!  We always create our interfacing cutting layouts for 20" wide interfacing since a number of interfacing brands are actually this narrow.  The cotton interfacing that we include in the Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit and stock by the half metre in our shop is 60" wide.  I only needed 0.67 m for this size large waistcoat.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

I hope you have a nice weekend!  My next post on Monday will be all about interfacing - my Granddad's waistcoat will be fused as per our instruction booklet and my waistcoat will involve a bit of padstitching.  See you then!

May 26, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 6 - Apply interfacing and sew darts (plus learn how to create a tailored front!)

I'm really excited about today's post because we are going to add structure and shaping to our waistcoats...and I've kicked it up a notch from the instruction booklet and tried out a few tailoring techniques to share with you!

Are you ready to try your hand at pad stitching, working with hair canvas and shaping with steam? No?  Don't worry, we'll cover the standard approach to interfacing and darts first...and you will wind up with a beautiful waistcoat that will look dressy enough for any occasion.  The advantage of the tailoring techniques that I've tested out later on in this post is that they will allow your waistcoat to look just as fresh and structured ten years from now as it will when the wearer tries it on for the first time.

Apply Interfacing

Let's begin with the standard approach (don't apply your interfacing right now if you are working with a bulky wool and would like to try your hand at tailoring...instead, read the rest of this post!).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

Lay out your waistcoat front pieces so wrong sides are facing up.  Press thoroughly if there are any creases in your fabric.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-5

Place the fusible interfacing pieces on top of your fabric and melt the glue by pressing with lots of steam.  Make sure you press for a long enough period to thoroughly melt the glue dots. Also apply interfacing to the welt pieces if you are sewing Variation One. Now it's time to mark the pattern details on to our waistcoat fabric pieces:

Mark Details

I have two different methods to show you - one involving pins and one involving a needle and thread.  My favourite method for transferring dart, buttonhole and pocket markings is to use pins.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

I place pins on the relevant points through both layers of fabric and the paper pattern piece.  Points include the tip of the darts, the widest point of the darts, the button placement markings and all four corners of each pocket.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-10

I then flip the three layers and poke another set of pins in the opposite direction (using the first set of pins as a guide for placement).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-11

Next I pull the fabric off of the paper pattern pieces so that one set of pins remains with the paper and the other set remains with the fabric.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-15

I use the pins as reference points to fill in the marking lines with chalk.  

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A more traditional approach to marking pattern details is adding tailor's tacks with needle and thread.  Thread a needle with a double strand of thread (in a contrast colour so you can see it easily!).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-25

Poke your needle through the paper and both fabric layers.  Bring the needle back up through all layers.  Here is a view of the underside (it's a loop!):

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-24

You can do this a couple of times if you like so that there are loops on each side.

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Separate the paper and fabric pieces gently.

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Snip the threads between each layer.

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And here is the end result:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-7

Fill in the lines with chalk if you would like.

Sew Darts

Using your freshly made markings, it is time to sew the darts on the waistcoat front, front linings, back and back linings. Fold the darts in half and begin stitching at the hem:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-70

Stitch all the way until the point and simply stitch off of the fabric (without backstitching).

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You will be left with a tail of thread.  Tie this thread in a knot by hand.  This technique will reduce the amount of bulk and potential bubbling at the point of the dart.

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Here is the finished dart on the waistcoat front:

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From the right side of the waistcoat, press the bulk of the dart towards the side seam.  Don't try to press the entire waistcoat flat since the purpose of the dart is to add curved shaping to the waistcoat front (see how the fabric ripples near the side seam?).

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Repeat this process for the front linings:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-76

But this time press the bulk of the dart towards center front.  This will reduce the overall bulk so that your dart is not very visible on the right side of the waistcoat.

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If you are adding the free download for a narrow cinching belt, this is the time to sandwich it in to the waistcoat back darts.  With or without this belt, sew the waistcoat back darts and press the bulk towards the side seam.

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Sew the waistcoat back lining darts and press the bulk towards the centre back.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-83

And now you are ready to add your facings to the lining pieces!  We will be covering this tomorrow.  If you would like to venture in to a few tailoring techniques with me, read on, otherwise, see you tomorrow!

 

Tailoring the waistcoat fronts

I am experimenting with two resources to tailor my waistcoat fronts.  I want to be clear that I took construction classes in design school that taught us some excellent techniques but we never ventured in to tailoring.  It is something that I have been very curious about for years and have read about often...but I haven't really applied what I have learned!  Today I am doing this at last.  If you are proficient at tailoring and notice mistakes or omissions, please don't hesitate to point them out to me!  I would love to hear your opinions so that I can learn more! I hope you enjoy learning a few of these techniques with me:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-16

Let's begin by sewing a simplified couture dart suitable for lofty wool fabrics. If you are working with a thin suiting or other material that is not especially bulky, you can sew the dart as per normal and press it to one side. I actually sewed the sample below in school but never applied it to any of the garments we drafted in class.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-15

The dart above may look ridiculously complicated but the concept is simple - we are trying to distribute the bulk of the dart evenly so that it is not visible from the right side of the garment.  Lofty wools can show a ridge where the dart is positioned unless you take some preventative measures.  Since the darts on the Belvedere are very narrow, the full trimming and pressing technique shown above won't work (it's next to impossible to trim down the middle of the dart almost to the point).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-9

To simplify the process but still distribute the bulk at the point of the dart over a larger area I cut a square of wool measuring approximately 1.5" X 1.5".

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-11

I positioned it centred underneath the point of the dart.  I then followed my original dart stitching line to secure it to the dart.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-13

I trimmed as far as possible down the center of the dart and pressed it open.  I then pressed the rest of the dart flat.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-14

From the right side of the garment you can see that there is no obvious dimple at the point of the dart because the added square distributes the wool 1.5" around the dart point. Now that the dart has been sewn, it is time to apply the structure.  You will notice that this is a different order of construction from the steps above!  Sew-in canvas stabiliser is too bulky to apply to the wool and then sew the dart.  The darts must be sewn on the wool and the stabiliser separately and then the two layers are attached together.

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I am following along with the very succinct and clear tailoring instructions found wihtin the 1976 edition of the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  If you are ever able to get your hands on a copy of this book I HIGHLY recommend it.  It is by far my most valuable sewing resource.  The older editions of this book (such as this 1976 version) also include a great section on tailoring for men specifically.  I believe newer copies do not include this. Click on the photographed images to enlarge and read the pages that I'm referring to.

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Even though the waistcoat that I'm tailoring is actually for me (yay!), I've decided to add a chest piece as per the instructions within the "Sewing for men and boys" section of this book since this chest piece is an important aspect to sewing a tailored garment for men.  The layers of stabilizing fabric fill in the hollow typically found under a man's shoulder.  I must note that I think I also have this hollow...I don't know if chest pieces are typically added to tailored women's waistcoats and blazers but I think it will be a nice addition to mine!

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Here is my wool canvas stabiliser with the dart sewn:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-18

Lay this interfacing piece on top of the waistcoat front so wrong sides are together.

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Mark the roll line if you have added a collar to your waistcoat.  This is the line where you will fold your collar over to make the facing visible.  It should end just above the top buttonhole.

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Baste the stabiliser to the wool along the roll line.  Just catch the wool so that your stitches are not visible from the right side of the garment.  Please note that you would normally be better off using a thread colour that matches your self fabric.  I've used a contrast colour (black) so that my stitches are easier for you to see.

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Now it is time to pad stitch the entire stabiliser to the waistcoat front.  Make long stitches through the stabiliser and just catch the under layer of wool (stitches should not be visible from the right side).  Do not stitch within the 5/8" seam allowances because we will be cutting in to these later.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-34

Instead of creating large pad stitches on the collar, roll the collar over your hand and stitch small chevrons that encourage the fabric to shape to the curve that you have created.

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Cut 5/8" seam allowances off of the stabilising wool canvas so that your seams and seam allowances will not become stiff and bulky.

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Fix your stabiliser to your wool by catch stitching around the entire perimeter.

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To prevent stretching out and sagging even more, you can apply twill tape to a number of areas.  The common placement is along the roll line of the collar (so that it does not extend in to the collar but is instead placed beside the collar on the waistcoat front) and down the front of the waistcoat.  I only applied it to the roll line because I did not have 1/4" twill tape (I only had 5/8" twill tape) so I thought mine would be too bulky to curve along centre front.

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Stitch around the entire length of twill tape.  Make sure to trim the tape so it does not extend in to the seam allowances.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-55

Use a very steamy iron and a seam roll or tailor's ham to shape the collar.  Since my collar is a very narrow shawl collar (rather than something wider) the shaping did not make a large impact.  I wound up steaming the fabric and shaping the hot fabric with my hands to get any sort of visible curve:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-57

Now that structure is added to the waistcoat front it is time to fill in some indents.  To create a chest piece it is recommended that you use stiff and resilient horse hair canvas.  If you wanted softer structure you could use the same wool canvas that you used for the rest of the waistcoat front stabilising job.

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Cut a small curve as shown above (use the Reader's Digest image photographed earlier as an example).

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Cover the first layer with a larger curve that extends the entire length of the armhole.

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Cover the first two layers with the largest curve as pictured above.

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Pad stitch all layers in place ensuring that your stitches are not visible from the right side of the waistcoat.  Note that you can add as many layers of stabiliser as necessary to fill in the cavity between the shoulder and chest (the Reader's Digest book actually suggests one more layer than I used.)

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Finally attach the chest piece to the waistcoat front more securely by catch stitching along the roll line and side seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-67

And there you have it!  May I present to you my first, from scratch, tailored waistcoat front!  Any tips for me? Head to our shop to find wool stabilising canvas (the main brown fabric that you see here as a stabiliser), and hair canvas (which (I used to create the chest piece).

May 30, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 7 - Assemble the Lining

Today is a fairly quick step in the sewing process but it is one that can cause a bit of confusion for people who are not familiar with working with facings paired with a lined garment.  These photos should make the process quite clear!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-84

Begin by stitching the centre back seam on both the back and back lining.  Place each set of backs with right sides together, pin and stitch the curved seam using a 5/8" seam allowance.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-85

Since the centre back seam features a curve it is necessary to clip in to the seam allowances so that they can spread open and lay flat when you press the seam.  When working with delicate lining fabrics be careful not to clip too close to the stitching or snag your fabric as you may cause a run or hole.

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Press the seam allowances open.

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From the right side of the waistcoat back and back lining, examine the curved seam to make sure it has been pressed nicely and no creases or puckers are visible (touch it up with the iron a little if necessary).

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Now let's attach the facings to the front lining!  We will be sewing two opposite curves together which can be a little bit finicky.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-92

Pin thoroughly.  I like to match the two sets of notches first, place pins at each notch and then work towards the shoulder seam and hem.  I place my final pins between the two sets of notches.

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Stitch the seam using a 5/8" seam allowance.  Since this is a very pronounced curve you will need to clip in to your seam allowances thoroughly.  I like to make triangular clips on the facing first.

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And next I make triangular clips on the lining.  Stagger your triangles so that the lining and facing seam allowances are never cut in the same spot - this allows your seam to remain strong.

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Press the seam allowances towards the lining.  I prefer to press from the right side of the fabric. This is what the pressed seam will look like from the wrong side:

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Now we must sew the back facing to the back lining.

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Begin by staystitching along the back lining neckline using a scant 5/8" seam allowance.  Staystitching prevents this curve from stretching out when you are sewing it to the facing and also allows you to clip the seam allowance so that you can relax the curve:

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Pin the back facing to the back lining with right sides together.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-104

At first glance it may look like the back facing is way too long to match the curve of the lining neckline, don't worry, they are exactly the same length along the seamline!  The 5/8" seam allowance and opposing curves create this optical illusion.  I like to begin by pinning the back facing and lining together at centre back.  I then pin in each direction towards the shoulder seam.

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You can see that it is necessary to straighten out the concave curve of the lining.  Good thing we clipped the seam allowances to make this possible!

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Begin stitching at one shoulder seam and work towards the other.  If you are a bit nervous about stitching this curved seam you can start at centre back and work towards either shoulder seam in the same manner that you pinned.  This way you are breaking the long curve in to two smaller and more manageable curves.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-109

And here is what your finished seam will look like!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-110

Clip in to the facing seam allowance to allow it to relax.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-111

Press the seam allowance towards the lining.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Tailoring-113

Now you can set aside your assembled lining pieces since on Friday we will be working with the waistcoat fronts once again as we add our pockets.

May 31, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 8 - Welt Pockets (or add alternative patch pockets)

Today we add the welt pockets to our waistcoat fronts or, if you are sewing variation 2 with no packets, you can sit back and relax!  At the end of this post I will show you how to create the rounded corner patch pocket that I created as a free pattern download to add on to the Belvedere.  There are two patch pocket shapes available in the download and they feature the same construction methods.

If you have been attempting to follow along with the sew-along schedule, I apologise for the adjustments I have been making to it over the last two weeks!  I had been trying to adjust by one day maximum so you wouldn’t be left twiddling your thumbs while you waited for me but I simply couldn’t fit everything in last week and had to delay Friday’s post until today.  I hope this didn’t upset your plans for the weekend!  On the bright side, delaying the sew-along allowed me to complete brand new samples for the entire Parkland Collection of patterns!  We had a wonderful photoshoot on Sunday with my parents and grandparents so there will be some fresh garments and photos for you to view on our website once Matt has finished editing them!

Ok, let’s move on to our welt pockets:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-1

We will be using the templates, the welts, pocket facings and pocket bags.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-3

During an earlier sew-along post we marked our welt placement on the waistcoat fronts.  You might need to refresh your chalk lines if they became worn while you sewed the darts – do so by placing the templates on the right side of your waistcoat front and tracing around them.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-4

Cut open the window in the welt pattern piece (just cut the paper, do not cut your fabric pieces!).  This will allow you to trace the welt outline on to the wrong side of the welt fabric.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-6

Place the welt and waistcoat front with right sides together.  Align your markings by poking through your welt fabric with pins at each corner and/or lift up the welt edges to peek at the markings below:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-7

If you are attempting to pattern match stripes, it is important to be very finicky with your welt placement.  I’ve always been quite terrible at matching stripes but this is how I try to do so:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-8

I pin my piece in place and fold down the fabric along the seamline to see if the stripes continue along the seam without breaking…of course, it is necessary to stitch very accurately to ensure this remains the case!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-9

Now that your welt pieces are pinned to the waistcoat front, prepare your sewing machine by reducing the stitch length so that it is quite short.  This short stitch length will slow you down to ensure that you stitch accurately and it will also make your pocket corners stronger.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-10

Stitch along the two long sides of the welt rectangle.  Try your best to begin and end your stitching exactly at the rectangle corners.  If you stop to early or extend your stitching too far your finished welt may pucker or refuse to sit squarely later on.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-11Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-13

After stitching I like to do some preemptive pressing to make things easier on myself later on.  The more pressing you do at this point, the easier it will be to press the welt in to shape later.  Begin by pressing the top of the welt down:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-14

And then press the bottom of the welt up:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-15

Now comes the slightly intimidating part…it is time to cut through all layers of your fabric to create windows in your waistcoat front!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-16

Cut through the middle of the welt by poking your holes through the center and snipping towards either edge.  Stop about 1/2″ before the end of the welt and snip two diagonal lines to create a “Y”.  Cut very precisely so that the points of the “Y” end exactly at each backstitch.  Again, precision here will lead to a nicely shaped welt without any puckering.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-18

Now that the welt window has been opened, it is possible to push the welt fabric through your slice so that it is on the wrong side of the waistcoat front:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-20Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-21Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-22Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-23

Flip your waistcoat front to the wrong side so that you are once again looking at your welt:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-24

It’s time to do some more pressing!  Can you tell how important pressing is to create a professional looking welt?  It is essential!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-25Underneath the lower part of your welt you will see two seam allowances.  Press these open.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-26

This helps to reduce bulk and allow the bottom of the welt to appear crisp.

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Press the top and the two narrow sides of the welt along the seamline but do not press the bottom any more.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-29

At this point you will have a crisp open window on your waistcoat front.  We are now ready to fill it with the welt!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-30

Fold the bottom of the welt upward to cover the open window and then fold downward again so that the raw edge is once again pointing towards the waistcoat hem:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-31

Press the welt so that the fold sits evenly along the top of the window:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-32

From the right side of the waistcoat your welt will appeal almost finished!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-33

To secure the sides of the welt, fold back the waistcoat front to reveal the welt seam allowance and a tiny triangle of fabric that you created when you cut the “Y” earlier.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-35

Stitch through the triangle and seam allowances:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-36

Repeat this step for the other side of the welt.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-37

When stitching these triangles in place it is important to ensure they are pulled taught but do not pull too hard.  As you can see on my chest pocket, I pulled the triangle too far to the left which caused the grainline of my welt to become slightly skewed.  The stripes are perfectly pattern matched along the bottom of the pocket but then they are pulled to the left near the top of the pocket…woops!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-40

Now that the welt is complete (congratulations!), it is time to attach the pocket bag.  Place the pocket bag on top of the welt with the right side of the pocket bag facing the wrong side of the waistcoat.  The bag should be upside down so that the straight edge is lined up with the bottom of the welt.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-41

Stitch the pocket bag to the bottom of the welt – I like to place the waistcoat on my sewing machine with the right side up and the front folded out of the way so that the welt seam allowance is visible.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-43

Press the pocket bag down so that it sits in its final position:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-44

Lay the pocket facings on top of the pocket bags and pin them to the welt and pocket bag seam allowances (don’t catch the waistcoat front with your pins).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-45

Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket facing using a 5/8″ seam allowance (you do not need to be precise with your seam allowance here, as long as you are closing up the sides and bottom of the pocket so that your phone and change can’t fall out!).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-46

The top of the pocket bag is still completely open.  To close this up, lay your waistcoat with the right side facing you and fold the waistcoat down out of the way.  This will expose the welt seam allowance and the top of the pocket bag:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-47

Stitch through all layers (but not the waistcoat front):

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-48

You are left with a fully closed pocket bags and three finished welt pockets!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-50

Give them one more press from the right side of the waistcoat front to make them appear as flat and crisp as possible.  And now give yourself a pat on the back!


 

If you would like to add our free patch pocket pieces to your waistcoat front for a more casual look, here is how to do so:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-51

Place your pockets and linings with right sides together.  Pin across the top of the pocket and stitch using a 5/8″ seam allowance.  Leave a gap in the middle (backstitch either side of this gap), so that you can use it to flip the pocket right side out later.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-52Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-53

Pull the pocket lining downward so that it is even with the bottom of the pocket.  Press along the notched fold line at the top of the pocket.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-54

Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket using a 5/8″ seam allowance:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-55

Clip triangles out of the seam allowances along the curved bottom corners.

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If you are working with fairly thick fabric, thoroughly trim all seam allowances to reduce bulk as much as possible.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-57

Flip the pockets right side out through the hole that you left in the lining.  Press the pockets thoroughly.

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Handstitch the hole in the lining closed.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-59

Determine the position of your patch pockets by using the welt pocket markings as a guide.  I like to hold the waistcoat front up to the wearer and pick a position that suits the wearer best.  Keep in mind that your pockets will look best if the grainline matches the waistcoat front – this means that the front edge of the pocket should be parallel to the waistcoat centre front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-60

Stitch the pockets in place using topstitching or you can opt to invisibly handstitch them from a clean and minimalist look.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Welt Pockets-61

It’s as easy as that!

During our next post we will be finishing the waistcoat fronts by attaching the lining.  I find that to be a very satisfying step so I’m looking forward to it!

June 19, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 9 - Finishing the Front

Today we will be attaching the lining and facing to the Belvedere Waistcoat fronts.  If you are sewing Variation 1, the first step is to create the side seam vents.  These vents can actually be added to either variation if you would like a little bit more room for movement.  The vent expands to create a larger circumference around the stomach while you sit, bend or simply have a full belly after a large meal!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-1

Begin by cutting a small rectangle of fusible interfacing measuring approximately 2″ X 3″.  Apply this to the wrong side of the lining at the bottom of each side seam.  This will help add rigidity to the lining fabric so that the vent appears crisp and flat when finished.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-2

Pin the waistcoat front to the lining with right sides together.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-3

Beginning at the side seam notch, stitch across the 5/8″ seam allowance.  When you get to the seamline, place your needle down in to the fabric and pivot around it.  Stitch an angled line towards the hem notch.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-5

Trim along your stitching so seam allowances are 1/4″ or less to reduce bulk.  Clip up to your stitching at the corner.
Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-6

Regardless of whether you are sewing Variation 1 or 2, it is now time to sew the hem, front and neckline seams.  If you have added the vent, begin stitching at the hem notch.  If you have not added the vent, begin stitching at the side seam.  Stitch along the hem, pivot at the angled point and then stitch up the front until you reach the shoulder.

To prevent the lining and facing from rolling to the right side when your waistcoat is worn, understitch as far as possible along the hem and front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-8

To understitch, work from the right side of the garment and stitch the facing and lining to the seam allowance.  Your stitching should be 1/8″ from your original seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-10

It won’t be possible to understitch around the angled point at the hem.  Simply stitch as far as possible and backstitch.  Then you can continue a new line of understitching along the hem.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-13

Trim one seam allowance shorter than the other and thoroughly clip in to the seam allowance along curves.  Also clip across corners to reduce bulk.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-11

Next we will close up the armhole.  With raw edges of the fabric even and right sides together, pin the front and lining together along the curve of the armhole.  Match the dart.  Depending on the fabrics that you are using, you may notice that the lining has stretched out or that your wool front has shrunk during the sewing process.  Not to worry!  Lay out the lining so that it flat and equal in size (or slightly smaller) than the waistcoat front.  Trim off the 1/8″ or so excess along the curve of the armhole.  This will help to prevent the lining from peeking out on the right side of the waistcoat at the armhole.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-14

Stitch the armhole curve using a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-15

It is necessary to thoroughly trim the seam allowances and clip in to the curves since the armhole curve is so exaggerated.  These clips will allow the fabric to sit smoothly when the garment is flipped right side out.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-17

And now it is time!  Let’s flip the waist coat front right side out!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-18

Do this by reaching in to the open side seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-20

Now give the front a very thorough press.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-21

Are you proud of how beautiful your finished front looks?  I hope so!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Front Lining-22

Tomorrow we will add on the back and our waistcoats will be VERY close to finished!

June 19, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 10 - Assembling the Back

Today we all but finish our waistcoats!  By the end of this post the back and back lining will be completely attached to the waistcoat fronts so that buttonholes and buttons will be the only remaining step.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-2

Prepare your waistcoat fronts by basting the open shoulder and side seams closed.  This way the layers won’t shift around when you attach the back.

If you have drafted a partial shawl collar as I did in an earlier sew-along post, you will need to fold it over and stitch it in place before attaching your waistcoat back.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-5

My fabric choice is unusually thick, so your collar will look much smoother and more flat when you fold it over.  Do not press the folded roll line (it looks best when it is softly folded), just pin and then stitch the collar in place along the shoulder seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-6

I handstitched the collar to the waistcoat front to keep it secure during my next sewing steps…I plan to take out this stitching once the waistcoat is finished, I just did this to reduce the bulk of the collar and maintain the shape of the collar even when the waistcoat is crumpled up and being pulled through the hem hole later (you’ll see what I mean in a bit!).

Also, I didn’t mention this during the post where we drafted the collar or where we understitched along the waistcoat front: You might like to stop your understitching just below your last button and leave the neckline without understitching.  When you fold over the collar the facing becomes the visible part of the collar so your understitching is front and centre!  The understitching also prevents the seam from being pressed slightly to the underside of the collar (in fact, it encourages the seam to roll towards the facing which makes it more visible.  If I were to sew another vest with this style of collar I would make sure to stop my understitching before the top button.  As it is, this chunky wool waistcoat will have other visible topstitching (on the tabs and at the armholes) so hopefully the understitching doesn’t look too out of place.  I’m sorry if you now have to pick out some unwanted understitching, I should have thought to mention this sooner!

Ok, with the collar ready to go, let’s move on to another feature I’ve added to the waistcoat I am sewing for myself – the tabs found in our free add-on pattern pieces.  Scroll down until you see the pinstriped waistcoat if you have not chosen to add these tabs.

Place each pair of tabs with right sides together and stitch around the long and pointed edges.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-7

Trim the seam allowances and corners thoroughly.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-8

Flip the tabs right side out.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-9

Press them thoroughly and topstitch around the perimeter (I used 1/4″ topstitching but it is up to you what you use!).  You could skip topstitching for a clean finish if you preferred.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-10

Place the tabs on the waistcoat back at the narrowest point of the waist.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-11

Baste them in place within the seam allowance.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-13

Now you are ready to proceed with adding the waistcoat back to the fronts as per the instruction booklet!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-29

Lay the waistcoat back (not the back lining) on your work surface right side up.  Lay the fronts on top of the back so that right sides are together.  Pin along the shoulder and side seams.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-30

Baste along the shoulder and side seams using a scant 5/8″ seam allowance.  Now is a perfect time to try the waistcoat on the wearer to check for fit!  If you notice gaping along the back armhole you can experiment by taking in the shoulder or side seam.  If you notice more or less room is needed at the waist (with the fronts pinned closed) you can take in our let out the side seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-31

With any small fit adjustments done, it is now time to add on the back lining!  Place the waistcoat back on to your work surface so the wrong side of your fronts are visible.  Lay the back lining on top so that the wrong side is facing up.  Pin along the shoulder seams, the neckline and the side seams.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-33

Stitch the shoulder, neckline and side seams by following your basting stitches.  To stitch the shoulders and neckline, begin by stitching one shoulder seam towards the neckline.  Stop when you feel the neckline edge of your waistcoat front.  Pivot your needle and stitch around the back neckline.  Pivot once again when you feel the second waistcoat front edge and then finish by stitching along the second shoulder seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-34

The only remaining openings are now the armholes and the hem.  Pin the back and lining armhole seams together.  You will need to shift the waistcoat fronts out of the way and stretch out the larger back armholes.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-35

Stitch the armholes from shoulder seam to side seam.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-36

The armholes feature a strong curve so it is necessary to clip these seam allowances carefully.  You should also clip the neckline seam allowances to help this curve sit nicely when the waistcoat is flipped right side out.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-37

Now the only step remaining is to stitch the hem.  We will be leaving a gap between one of the darts and the centre back seam so that the waistcoat can be flipped right side out.  Stitch from one side seam to the dart and backstitch.  Stitch from the other side seam to the centre back and backstitch.  If you are working with unusually thick fabrics you may need to leave a larger opening than this.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-38

Trim the hem seam allowances and corners.  Now fish the entire waistcoat through that hole and press the side seams, neckline, shoulder seams, armholes and hem thoroughly!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-40

Close up the hem by hand.  And while you do so, you may find that your carefully pressed waistcoat has become a cat bed (it seems as though she can sense when I’m going to be standing still and hand stitching for a while).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Assemble the Back-42

Now, we’re ready to add the buttonholes to the waistcoat front, the corresponding buttons and perhaps a label to the neckline!

June 19, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 11 - Adding Buttons

This marks the final Waistcoat Sew-Along post!  Today you get to try on your finished waistcoat!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-13

All that remains is to sew our buttonholes and stitch on our buttons.  I will run through how to do this as per the instruction booklet but first, based on a few emails from you guys, I’ve assembled ideas to help you avoid buttons…but really, I highly encourage you to try your hand a buttonholes because they aren’t that difficult and are essential for an elegant and classic waistcoat.  As you can see, button alternatives are quite a statement and only work for certain situations:

Buttonless waistcoats

  1. Quilted and Snaps
  2. Leather and Snaps
  3. Wool and Zipper

Another idea is to close the waistcoat with ties or buckles.  I couldn’t find any examples of this style of closure for menswear but I have added our Lazo Trousers buckles to the waistcoat I am making for myself so you can see how this idea could look in reality!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-28

To add regular buttons and buttonholes:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-1

Begin by refreshing or freshly making your buttonhole markings.  If you are sewing Variation 1 you will be stitching 6 buttonholes and for Variation 2 you will be stitching 5.  This is really a matter of preference though – you could change the spacing of the buttonholes and reduce to three or four if you desired!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-3

The buttonholes will be on the left hand side of the waistcoat (if you were wearing the garment).  You can see I have a stack of examples on my dress form to prove this button and hole placement!  I guess that’s what happens when you sew endless samples for a pattern, you end up with more waistcoats than any one person could wear.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-2

Position them approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″ from the edge of the waistcoat front…you can choose your distance based on the fit you would like to achieve.  Stitching them closer to the edge of the waistcoat will give your wearer a little bit more room while stitching further from the edge will create a more snug fitting waistcoat.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-4

Choose a buttonhole size that is slightly longer than the diameter of your buttons.  This makes it easy for the wearer to button and unbutton his waistcoat.  Check out this Craftsy article to determine exactly what size of buttonhole you need.

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I like to stitch around my buttonholes twice to create tidy and dense rows of stitching…of course, this can really depend on how your individual sewing machine and buttonhole stitching mechanism functions.

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Slice open the buttonholes using a seam ripper with pins placed across either end of the buttonhole to prevent your seam ripper from slicing too far.

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Alternatively, you can use a buttonhole chisel and cutting board.  You could even snip with delicate buttonhole scissors.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-10

Stitch your buttons on to the right hand side of the waistcoat (if you were wearing the garment) so that they correspond to the buttonholes.  I like to re-check my markings by overlapping the waistcoat fronts and placing a pin through the buttonhole.  This way I can be sure the button will line up perfectly with the hole.

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You might like to check out my tutorial about sewing on a button – I explain how to use beeswax to strengthen your thread and how to make a thread shaft for a strong button that is slightly raised from the garment fabric so that it is easy to use.

If you have sewn the tabs on to your waistcoat, add buttonholes to the tabs and then a total of four buttons to the waistcoat back.  Position one set so they match the tab buttonhole without cinching the waistcoat back.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-14

Place the other set so that they cinch the waistcoat back just enough to add some extra shaping.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-16

You can see the cinched version on the left hand side of the photo above and the relaxed version on the right hand side.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-31

And that’s it!  With a final press and perhaps a handstitched label on the back facing, your waistcoat is finished!

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I will be sharing a parade of Belvedere Waistcoats on the blog next Friday, June 16th in honour of Father’s Day.  Would you like your Belvedere in the parade?  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca with photos or comment below with a link to your blog, Instagram or Facebook post.  Alternatively, use #belvederewaistcoat on Social Media to share your finished project.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-32

I can’t wait to see what you have created!  Thanks for sewing along.

June 19, 2017

Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 12 - The Parade

The Drapery Waistcoat 1

I have a treat for you today – a parade of finished Belvedere Waistcoats!  I hope your waistcoats will be worn to many memorable events this summer!  I know a few of them were sewn for lucky grooms and others were sewn to wear at the local pub.  Maybe others will be given to a deserving Dad this Father’s Day (on Sunday)?

The Drapery Waistcoat 2

The dark grey fabric and luxurious champagne lining used on this waistcoat are a perfect combo of fabrics.  And those welt pockets look very well executed!  This Belvedere was sewn by Jane of The Drapery for her husband, Andy.  She wrote a review on The Drapery blog.

Zaks Belvedere Waistcoat

Next we have a work of art sewn by Zak!  Check out the embroidery and the custom chest pocket!  Plus, I don’t think I need to point out the paisley lining since it is difficult to miss (and matches the embroidery so beautifully).

Belvedere Waistcoat Zak.JPG

Many of you have been sharing your Belvedere photos on Instagram using #belvederewaistcoat  Here are a few of the versions that stood out to me today:

 

To finish off this sew-along parade, Matt photographed me in my new Belvedere standing in front of the garden.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-21

As mentioned before, I did not make the suggested alterations to my waistcoat in order to fit it to a female figure.  I wanted this sample to serve as a visual example to show why making a few simple fit adjustments can lead to a much more flattering waistcoat for women.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-19

The main thing to notice is that smaller armholes are needed.  For me they gape at the front but on other women (depending on your bust size), you may find they gape at the back.  I’ve explained how to adjust the armhole earlier in the blog.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-24

Since I have a pretty small bust measurement I don’t think the gaping is that bad or noticeable.  The main thing I dislike is how low the armhole sits at my underarm.  The next time I sew a Belvedere for myself I will reduce the scoop of the front armhole so that the curve is more shallow and so that the side seam is at least 1″ longer.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong Sew on buttons-22

I think this waistcoat will be worn often in the Fall despite the fact that it is not perfectly fitted to my figure.  I love how warm the spongy wool is!  It’s satisfying to have a project finished and sitting in my closet a whole season early…that doesn’t happen often.

If ever you would like to share your Belvedere Waistcoat masterpiece, use #belvederewaistcoat on Instagram, join our Facebook Thread Theory Sewing Community, or email me at info@threadtheory.ca

June 19, 2017